Cheltenham Festival Bans Drunks...Good Luck With That
It’s the place that combines the majesty of the finest thoroughbred horses with the skill and bravery of world’s best jump jockeys.
The place where years of dedication from trainers, owners and riders comes down to one dramatic, final push up that energy sapping hill.
The place where League One footballers chuck urine over the side of a balcony and reality TV stars flash their boobs at the paparazzi.
Wait. That can’t be right.
Each year, well over a quarter of a million people attend the four days of the Cheltenham Festival. As the punters pour through the gates, the various pubs and bars in and around the race course pour out pints and serve up champagne.
Inevitably, some festival goers end up a little worse for wear and the behaviour of some has become a problem for the festival organisers.
Last year, while the back-page headlines were made by the likes of Annie Power, Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins, the front of the papers were filled with the rather un-regal actions of a few of the fans at the festival.
The most notable incident came on the Day 2 of Cheltenham Festival.
A sports management company had booked out a box at Cheltenham to reward some of their clients. Among those invited were Samir Carruthers (then of MK Dons) and James Collins (who was on loan to Northampton).
Footballers are allowed to blow off steam just like the rest of us but the relaxation methods of these two had clearly left them a little bit, let’s say ‘tired and emotional’. So much so, that they decided that the walk to the toilet from the balcony of their box was just too far for them.
So, in the full of view of everybody and anybody watching, they unzipped their flies and urinated straight into a glass. Collins was then snapped pouring a glass full of suspiciously yellow looking liquid over the side of the balcony.
You’d be lying if you said you weren’t a little bit impressed by the way they coolly carried on their conversations as they took aim at a small glass but it did not make for a good spectacle.
Unsurprisingly, the players’ behaviour did not go down well with their clubs and they’ve both since moved on to pastures new. Even less surprisingly, the presence of footballers, champagne and paparazzi attracted a couple of reality TV stars.
Jessica Hayes and Katie Salmon (us neither) sniffed out the paps and made sure to give them an eyeful from the same balcony.
Fair enough, as Hayes pointed out, a nipple is not “the end of the world” but equally it’s not exactly the image that the Cheltenham bigwigs want shared around the world.
In fact, their actions went down so badly that Cheltenham promptly cancelled the company’s booking for the next day.
It’s also prompted the Cheltenham organisers to have a crack down on similar behaviour for this year’s festival.
Policing will be stepped up and the local council can now issues on-the-spot fines for anybody who doesn’t stop drinking when asked. That’s good news for local residents, not such good news for anybody trying to drown their sorrows after their bets on a race.
We can understand why the Cheltenham organisers want to avoid any more negative press.
Drunken brawls and bad behaviour is a real problem at other meetings like Aintree and Ascot but we just hope they don’t go overboard and stop people having a good time.
It’s one thing trying to stop public urination from drunk footballers, another to over-police fun.
Thankfully, for anybody who’s been to Cheltenham, there’s also a crackdown on ticket touts and companies trying to give away freebies without a permit. Which could finally spell the end for the dreaded Rich Ricci scarf.