Andre Klein is General Manager at Warwick Racecourse. In his latest column with the Observer he looks ahead to the Cheltenham Festival.
HORSERACING: “Something pretty special is happening next week and I have absolutely no doubt that there will be a fair few people catching an unexplained illness as they do on Champion Hurdle Day, every year. It’s a terrible thing Cheltenham Festival fever!
“Thankfully, it is a massive perk of working for The Jockey Club that I don’t have to take a day off to attend what is the greatest show in the world of horse racing. Four days of pulsating, stamina sapping excitement. Moments of magical hope and elation but many more of despair and disappointment if you punt like me.
“As soon as the last race is run on Friday afternoon, us racing-mad folk start counting down the days again. It’s like a ritual. One we all love. Once we have stopped boasting about our good judgement, rueing our bad luck and simple poor choices we start focusing on the possible future results of races a mere 12-months away. My first wagers for March 2017 went down in March 2016. They will probably go down at The Festival. Still I have enjoyed a year of dreaming.
“The Cheltenham Festival has an average daily attendance of over 60,000 people. I read somewhere they are expecting to park around 36,000 cars and rather incredibly 45,000 afternoon teas are being prepared. What can I say, that’s a lot of cream and jam. For those readers who like a tip, my fantasy results are; Willoughby Court winning the Neptune Investments Novice Hurdle, Grand Vision winning the Foxhunters, Defi Du Seuil winning the Triumph Hurdle and Lifeboat Mona winning the OLBG Mares Hurdle.
“Meanwhile, before Cheltenham happens we have our Air Ambulance Countryside Raceday at Warwick and I tell you what, it will be fantastic day out for those looking to find something to do this Sunday afternoon.
“Okay, we hope to get 2,500 people, park about 500 cars and serve around 250 afternoon teas on Sunday. It’s no Cheltenham Festival but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any sort of average event. In fact it is one of my favorite race meetings of the year.
“Great competitive horse racing with a side attraction of ferret racing, birds of prey display, free pony rides, live music and entertainment. It’s actually a great day for kids to enjoy, so bring them along – remember it’s free to enter for all children under 16!
“The day is also utilised as a fund-raiser for the Air Ambulance Service and we are hosting a big lunch for over 200 people to raise both funds and awareness. Last year, over £25,000 in donations were made through activities staged at our racecourse for this worthy charity. We are hoping to achieve something similar this year.
“Best of luck at The Festival… but hope to see you at Warwick on Sunday!”