Few occasions bring together such a diverse range of society than a day out at a races and Cheltenham is no exception. If you are heading to Prestbury Park for the Festival this week, here are a few of the individuals you might expect to rub shoulders with while you are there…
1. Festival regulars
Looking comfortable and warm in their hard-wearing tweeds, fur mufflers and sensible boots, these individuals typically count their Festivals in double figures. Tending to be well-connected in the hunting/racing world, they are often owners (past or present) and may well be related to somebody training a horse in the Foxhunter.
2. Eventing’s who’s who
While the eventing season may have only recently got underway, the beady eyed will spot plenty of top riders among the crowds. Many take time out of their busy schedules to enjoy a day or two at the Festival. Most commonly found associating with the Festival regulars, who may also be current (or possibly future) owners of their top rides.
3. Irish visitors
The Cheltenham roar is never bigger than when an Irish raider is first past the post and the Festival would be a poorer place (both figuratively and financially) without our friends from the Emerald Isle. An annual pilgrimage for thousands, they can often be found in excellent voice either celebrating or drowning their sorrows in the Guinness Village.
4. New kids on the block
Trying a little too hard, these individuals can typically be spotted in head-to-toe matching tweed. Their slightly too bright velvet collars mark them out, just like the orange stickers did for those not up to scratch in collar and tie at Ascot. Keen to attack the Seafood and Champagne bar, they often have a driver in tow to get them safely home at the end of a long day.
5. Hens and stags
Their crazy outfits, L-plates and other offences against sartorial dignity mark these groups out a mile away. But they are more likely to be interested in the booze than the horses, so if you keep an eye out for individuals dressed as either a comedy jockey or horse, you should be able to give them a wide berth and avoid getting their drinks poured all over you.
6. Royal Ag students
Red socks are almost compulsory for the males, while the ladies commonly sport flowing golden locks. Normally in good voice, they are a traditional part of the Festival scene.
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7. Painted ladies
Every year some ladies will confuse Cheltenham with Royal Ascot and arrive wearing strappy dresses combined with monstrous hats that aren’t capable of withstanding a gentle breeze, let alone the sort of wind and rain that March can bring. It’s not long before their skin is turning a chilly shade of blue under their fake tan and they will end up carrying their shoes back to their hired stretched, pink Hummer at the end of the day.
8. Flash city suits
The painted ladies are often, but not always, accompanied by thin black suits who spend most of their day travelling between the bars and the bookies. Typically found drinking more and more to drown their sorrows following their losses, they typically trail home at the end of the day having not seen a horse in the flesh at all.