Cheltenham Festival is set to bring excitement, anguish and ecstasy to millions

SOUL OF SPORT: 260,000 people are expected to attend the Cheltenham Festival this week, with the iconic event set to bring millions of more excitement, fear and ecstasy – ANDY HOOPER captures all the backstory and behind-the-scenes stories in pictures

By Andy Hooper for the Daily Mail

7:19 am Mar 13, 2023, updated 7:19 am Mar 13, 2023

  • Each week on a Monday, our Soul of Sport series takes readers behind the scenes at top sporting events
  • Andy Hooper traveled to the legendary Cheltenham Racecourse ahead of this year’s festival, which begins on Tuesday
  • His photographs capture all facets of the build and help tell the untold stories of the four-day event

Welcome back to the soul of sport. For our third installment in the series, ANDY HOOPER traveled to Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire ahead of this week’s legendary Cheltenham Festival.

During the four-day event, an estimated 260,000 people will come to witness the best horses, jockeys and trainers compete in 28 races. The excitement, fear and exhilaration will be felt by millions more viewers from afar in what is undoubtedly one of the biggest weeks on the British sporting calendar. Ahead of this year’s festival on Tuesday, our man captured all the work required to prepare the venue using a Nikon Z9 camera and 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses.

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The calm before the storm at Cheltenham Racecourse – View of the finish line from the Royal Box in the Princess Royal grandstand
Groundsmen at Cheltenham Racecourse prepare the hurdles ahead of the festival’s action which begins on Tuesday afternoon
A shot of Cheltenham’s historic steam railway helping to transport racegoers to the racecourse during the event
Neil Carr (pictured) is the driver of the steam train, giving racegoers a unique experience upon arrival
The parade ring at the festival will be prepared ahead of Tuesday’s first meeting, with 28 races taking place over the four days
A shot from the Gold Cup – the most prestigious national hunt race of the year – which has a highly competitive line-up this year
The Main Stand at Cheltenham – pictured empty above – which will be packed to capacity during the festival
The Guinness tent area is being prepared and players are expected to swallow a significant pint load over the four-day event
A behind-the-scenes snap of Rachael Blackmore’s brace in the weigh room, autographed after she won the Gold Cup last year
A dawn shot of the racecourse on Sunday as horses and jockeys head out for an early morning gallop
Festival favorite Honeysuckle – who has won back-to-back Champion Hurdle events – ate some weed on Sunday morning
A line of horses, ridden by renowned trainer Gordon Elliott, head out for the early morning canter on Sunday
A lone horse and jockey early Sunday morning on the course with the Cheltenham stands in the background behind
Another line of horses trained by Gordon Elliott continue their preparation for Sunday morning’s early morning canter
Instructor Jon Pullin with his modern stick for measuring going (left hand) and his old-fashioned stick (right)
Trained by Willie Mullins, Honeysuckle also gallops early morning with the horse, which is due to retire after this year’s festival
A shot of more horses trained by Gordon Elliott being put through their paces at Cheltenham Racecourse on Sunday at dawn
Man State – another horse trained by Willie Mullins – uses the sand bath before training at the canter on Sunday morning
Legendary British jumping coach Nicky Henderson takes to the track to check the ground ahead of Cheltenham on Sunday
A shot of the platform at Cheltenham Racecourse with an estimated 260,000 people expected to attend the event over the four days
Racegoers can head straight to the racecourse after a scenic drive through the Cotswolds, Malverns and the Vale of Evesham
A long distance shot of Cheltenham Racecourse with the photo by Cleeve Hill showing the track and grandstands
A picturesque photo of Cheltenham Racecourse at dawn on Sunday morning as the sun rises ahead of the festival

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