It would be fair to say that the upcoming 2023 Cheltenham Festival is one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the annual sporting calendar. The four-day meeting attracts massive interest in betting circles, with punters eager to wager on the latest Cheltenham odds months before the action gets underway.
Millions of pounds are wagered by punters in the United Kingdom and Ireland, highlighting the popularity of the Festival. Bookmakers are not the only businesses who benefit from the annual racing extravaganza, with the local economy also benefitting across several key areas.
More than 60,000 people attend each day of the Festival, providing a massive boost to numerous businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector. According to researchers at the University of Gloucestershire, the Festival is worth a whopping £100 million to the local economy.
With other local festivals generating millions more on top of that figure, Cheltenham is heavily reliant on the money spent by visitors. Hotels, restaurants and bars are among the main businesses that are able to cash in on the massive influx of people who head to Gloucestershire each year. The Festival is undoubtedly part of the culture of Cheltenham, with the town renowned around the world for its long-standing association with National Hunt racing.
With horse racing now ranked as the UK’s second sport behind football, it is easy to see why the Festival is so crucial to the economy in Cheltenham. While the Festival is a major source of income for the town, it is also a vital factor in keeping the racecourse as one of the primary venues for National Hunt racing. It contributes a significant proportion of the Cheltenham Racecourse’s total revenues for the year, much of which is ploughed back into racing.
The Festival is the second-largest racing event in the UK after Royal Ascot, which has the advantage of being staged in the summer over five days. The money reinvested into racing is a direct result of the Jockey Club being governed by the Royal Charter, which works to promote the development of the sport. The late Queen Mother and Queen were massive racing fans and helped to keep horse racing at the forefront of public consciousness. Cheltenham has benefited massively from their interest, with the racecourse receiving around $45m to reinvest in creating state-of-the-art facilities.
This had a significant impact on the local economy, with much of the development work undertaken by local tradesman. The hospitality sector also raked in the cash during the revamp, with revenues almost doubling to around £9m while the project was completed. One of the most striking statistics surrounding the Festival is how its impact on the local economy has mushroomed in recent years.
Analysts estimated it was worth around £50m in 2012, but improved marketing and increased interest from broadcasters has boosted its profile.
The Festival has also had an impact in unexpected ways, including the provision of a significant hike in the value of properties in the town. Properties in Cheltenham have an overall average price of more than £400,000, significantly more than many other UK towns of a similar size. With the figures continuing to rise, Cheltenham is clearly benefitting massively from hosting the prestigious annual horse racing Festival.
While calls for a fifth day to be added to the meeting have been rejected to date, it would be no surprise to see it happen given the obvious economic benefits it would generate for Cheltenham.