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Racing News
Friday 17th February 2017
   
Cheltenham Festival to Introduce Alcohol Ban

Cheltenham Festival

Horse racing fans will be restricted to buying four alcoholic drinks at a time during this year’s Cheltenham Festival, as the Jockey Club try to put a stop to anti-social behaviour. Complimentary bars in corporate hospitality boxes will be shut earlier, and water points will be made available at every public bar during next month's meeting. Council officers will also be able to issue on the spot fines to anybody who refuses to stop drinking in a designated area.

The move comes after high profile incidents in 2016 – two professional footballers were pictured urinating into plastic cups before throwing the cups over a balcony, and a group of women exposed themselves to photographers while drinking champagne. The four drink limit will also be enforced at race-courses including Aintree, the venue of the Grand National, and Epsom, the home of the Derby.

Last year visitors consumed 265,000 pints of Guinness, 120,000 bottles of wine and 20,000 bottles of champagne over the course of the four-day event, but Cheltenham chief executive, Ian Renton, is keen to keep the focus on the racing. Speaking to The Times he said, "Our message is enjoy yourself and have a great day out at the races, but don't come here purely to drink.”

Despite the alcohol clamp-down the racing is expected be as sparkling as ever. Over a quarter of a million people will attend the Gloucestershire race-course, for what is a highlight on the National Hunt calendar. All eyes will be on Thistlecrack and Native River as they go head to head in the big race, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Both trained by Colin Tizzard, the two horses lead the way – priced 7/4 and 9/2 respectively via BetStars – in what could be the most competitive flagship race in recent years.