Cheltenham Festival has kicked off with Constitution Hill winning the Champion Hurdle on the opening day yesterday. Rachael Blackmore will hope to continue breaking records and making history as she prepares to race in this year’s Gold Cup once again and Galopin des Champs has become this year’s bookies’ favourite to take home the coveted trophy.
However, the Gloucestershire event is hitting the news for several reasons outside of horse-racing at the moment, with fans questioning both the new dress code and the surge in prices. The Jockey club has decided to ease the dress code restrictions in order to make the event more “accessible and inclusive”. The jockey club’s chief executive Nevin Truesdale said the idea was to show racing “is for everyone. By taking the decision not to impose dress codes at any of our 15 racecourses, we now hope to get rid of any ambiguity or uncertainty.”
The other news coming from Cheltenham is that one vendor is selling a Guinness drink for £20. With the rise of costs at the festival rising as much as a third since 2019, here is all you need to know about the surge...
What does a day at the races cost?
Recent information released by the investment platform Saxo has found that since 2019, an average day for a London-based racing fan has increased by around 37%. If one were to buy an advance return ticket from Paddington to Cheltenham Spa, have access to the Best Mate Enclosure, buy a return ticket for the bus from Cheltenham Spa, racing post and buy a pint of Guinness and a burger, the cost would have come to around £127 in 2019. In 2023, however, this figure has gone up to £175.50.
Harry Leyburn, of Saxo, has said: “Surging inflation is being felt in all walks of life and its impact on food, energy and other staples means very few industries and major events can escape its grasp, with the UK’s biggest racing week no exception. Attendees will face inflated prices of almost 37% in just four years, 9% higher than the cumulative CPI inflation rate for that period.“These costs reflect the current economic climate and there’s little anyone can do at this stage other than like it or lump it at events such as this.
“The 250,000 strong crowd descending on Gloucestershire should take note of the surge in price of some essentials, including train fares which have jumped 60%, racing newspapers which are up by half and refreshments for the day which are up a quarter, leaving the basics for the day costing over £175.”
How much is a pint of Guinness?
So, the all important question - how much for a pint? In 2019, a pint of Guinness at the races would have put you back £6. This week it is likely to cost you £7.50 although one vendor has decided to mock those complaining about the prices and has created a drink which will cost you £20.
Over the four days, fans are likely to consume over 300,000 pints but Club Black Velvet has been created by William Woodhams and is a ‘perfect blend’ of English sparkling wine and Guinness. Woodhams has said: Every year there is more and more controversy around the cost of Guinness at the Cheltenham Festival and frankly we were bored of it."So, to gently rub the complainers and celebrate recent political manoeuvres we have created the world’s most expensive - and finest - pint of the black stuff with a mix of premium English sparkling wine and Guinness brewed in Dublin. "Isn’t it the perfect way to celebrate free trade between our two great nations and the Windsor protocol? The Irish visitors to Cheltenham can afford it with their strong currency. Yours for £20."
Additionally, a burger, which was £8.50 in 2019, has now gone up to £10.50 and a Best Mate Enclosure ticket is now £45 having been £37 back in 2019.
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