Talking Horses: Cheltenham reopens its doors to give jumps season a boost

By: Greg Wood Friday 22 October 2021

After an eerily quiet festival earlier this year, the thousands of racegoers at the Showcase Meeting will be a welcome sight

Cheltenham racecourse will welcome a five-figure crowd for the first time since Gold Cup day in 2020 when its 2021-22 season opens on Friday afternoon, ahead of a winter campaign when jumping as a whole will hope to repair its finances after staging the 2020-21 season almost entirely behind closed doors.

The official attendance for the 2021 Cheltenham festival, according to figures submitted to the Levy Board, was 155 people across the four days. The meeting unfolded in an eerie, emotionless atmosphere and with strict rules on social distancing for the handful of participants, officials and media in attendance. Ireland’s large team of trainers and riders was quarantined in a hotel a mile from the course, and a moment of history as Rachael Blackmore became the first female rider to end the festival as the leading rider played out in front of empty stands.

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