Cheltenham Festival 2018: Tips on how to make the most of it, straight from the bookie’s mouth

Balthazar Fabricius of Fitzdares offers his tips for this week's Cheltenham Festival – just don't expect him to wish you luck.

Dear Country Life readers, welcome to The Festival. A fiscal boon for the local economy, a semi religious experience for all, and a chance to revisit Anglo Irish rivalries for many.

Let’s take these Cheltenham tips, or tactics, in game time order.

Set the alarm early. Have a big healthy breakfast. The Festival is a stamina test, don’t get your shorts wet before you hit the water. Take the quiet time first thing to read your paper of choice, and make your calls. This is the time to mentally set up your day. 

Next tip, what do you wear? Go careful on the tweed I’d say. Tweed is fine but some of the checks are, shall we say, sospechoso. Drake’s is your ‘go-to.’ Harvey Specter would look no further.

Cheltenham Festival racegoers dressed in Tweed (PA)

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Third tip, get on course early. I am widely ridiculed for being in the car park at the crack of sparrows but what’s the fun in the last 5 miles taking 1hr.

Instead, take that time to suck up the racecourse air, dig your heel in the turf, have that double mac from the Organic Fairtrade coffee stand at the back of the Main Grandstand, and feel the adrenaline start to course through your veins. 

Cheltenham festival cup of coffee (Tim Goode/EMPICS)

If you are not in a box head for the Quevega bar where they do a good spread of Spanish tapas. It is handily positioned close to the Winners’ Enclosure so the atmosphere is tip top.

With regards to the races themselves, the big names are Buveur D’Air for the Champion Hurdle, Altior for the Queen Mother Champion Chase and  Might Bite for the Gold Cup.

But the best tip is to be your own judge. There is a tsunami of information out there. Analysis paralysis if you ask me. Back yourself, pace yourself…  and remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint. 

Post racing, if you are heading into town make a beeline for The Clarence Social where the wagyu beef is superb. If you are staying closer to the racecourse or looking for somewhere en-route home The Lion in Winchcombe is a beauty.

It is disingenuous of a bookmaker to wish you luck but have a fantastic time and may horses, jockeys and racegoers alike get back in one piece!

Balthazar Fabricius is CEO of private bookmaker Fitzdares –