Cheltenham Festival capacity cap


Cheltenham Festival attendance cap Image: British Horseracing Authority

The Cheltenham Festival will introduce an attendance cap for 2023, it has been revealed. The famous Gloucestershire (UK) horse-racing event will now have an upper limit for its daily spectator capacity.

‘Gloucestershire Live’ stated that the decision has been taken after racegoers complained that this year’s festival was “too busy”. Record attendances of more than 73,000 enjoyed the races on the Thursday and Friday of Cheltenham Festival in 2022. In 2022, it was held from March 15th to March 18th.

The Cheltenham Festival is a horse racing-based meeting in the National Hunt racing calendar in the United Kingdom, with race prize money second only to the Grand National. The four-day festival takes place annually in March at the Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK.

The 67,500-capacity Cheltenham Racecourse at Prestbury Park, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England (UK), hosts the National Hunt horse racing. Its most prestigious meeting is the Cheltenham Festival held in March, which features several Grade I races including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase, and the Stayers’ Hurdle.

‘Gloucestershire Live’ further stated that the event has now revealed that capacity will be capped at 68,500 people per day for the four days of the festival in 2023. It is hoped the cap will “enhance the experience of race-goers”.

Ian Renton, The Jockey Club’s Managing Director for Cheltenham and the West Region, said, “With COVID-19 spectator restrictions lifted, the festival made a spectacular return in 2022, welcoming record crowds to enjoy a tremendous atmosphere and the very best of jump racing. It was fantastic to attract capacity crowds on both Thursday and Friday to witness some brilliant racing in glorious sunshine. However, we are well aware that our facilities, even after significant investment in recent years, are stretched at these attendance levels. Despite the financial implications of reducing attendance numbers, we will be capping daily capacity at 68,500 in the recognition of the importance of ensuring that the festival remains an attractive and enjoyable experience for the long term.”

Added Renton, “Ticket sales for 2023 have been very brisk. I would advise those wishing to attend to book as soon as possible to avoid any possible disappointment.”

A statement from Cheltenham Festival adds, “This year the festival attracted a record aggregate attendance of 280,627, including record individual attendances for both Thursday (73,754) and Friday (73,875). As part of planning next year’s event, The Jockey Club gathered and reviewed feedback from racegoers and participants about their experience.”

The statement further added, “While this was very positive towards the world-class sport on offer and the high standard of facilities at Cheltenham, which have helped the festival to enjoy strong growth in recent years, it was also clear that many wished to see reduced spectator numbers to ease movement around the course and enhance service times. Tickets for all Cheltenham fixtures can be purchased online, please click here.”

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