Published On: Tue, Sep 16th, 2014

Cheltenham Set For Redevelopment

Work is well underway to build a new grandstand at Cheltenham Racecourse which is scheduled to be complete in time for the 2016 Festival, the biggest meeting of the year on the National Hunt calendar.

Although Cheltenham is regarded as premier course in British jumps racing, it has been heavily criticised in the past for having facilities that don’t match the prestige of the meeting in March which sees four championship races and a host of other valuable contest across the week. Not only will the main stand house much better facilities, but it will also increase the attendance on any given day by 10,000.

Cheltenham Racecourse redesign  photo/http://www.cheltenham.co.uk

Cheltenham Racecourse redesign photo/http://www.cheltenham.co.uk

The Cheltenham Festival is engraved in every racing fan’s diary in as much that they save us all year long to make the pilgrimage to the Gloucester track for the ‘World Championships’ in the sport. The highlight of the meeting is the final day which includes the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the blue-riband event in jump racing and also the most prestigious.

The project at Prestbury Park is set to cost over £45 million once complete but should resolve a number of issues the track has had. Most notably, crowd congestion has been a real problem at Cheltenham during the Festival. Spectators have found it difficult to move around the course, in particular from the main stand to the surrounding areas. Management staff are hoping the elevated walkways which will be installed in the new stand will help to improve the flow of the crowd on each of the days of the meeting.

A new parade ring is also expected to be included in the latest development with the aim to make it more accessible than the former ring. This is very important at any racecourse as a lot of punters like to have a look at the horses walking around before choosing who to bet on. Those who do get worked up in the ring tend to have their odds pushed as they use up a lot of energy in the process.

A number of bar facilities are also going to be added, as well as more toilets around the track. The aim is reduce the queues so spectators don’t miss any of the action and don’t have to wait too long for the amenities.

The task that Cheltenham racecourse has had to build the new stand has, and will continue to encounter problems along the way. The royal box and a number of the corporate annual boxes have had to have been demolished to ensure the builders remain on schedule for completion ahead of the 2016 Festival.

Spectators and fans of the sport were worried that they were the ones who were going to have to pick up the bill for the grandstand. However, the Jockey Club, who own the track, have made it clear that ticket prices will not be increased on the back of the development. Prize money will also be maintained to attract the best horses in the sport across Britain, Ireland and France, who sometimes are represented during the meeting.

Cheltenham stages its first meeting of the 2014/15 season next month and no interruption to the schedule at the track is expected at the upcoming camping. The course does still attract large crowds for a number of its meetings but the real test will come in Match for the 2015 Festival.

The Jockey Club and Cheltenham Racecourse officials have stated that there are no current plans to move any of the races at the 2015 meeting to other tracks across the county. They are currently planning for “business as usual” ahead of the greatest show on turf in March.

Author: Henry Arnold

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