The Cheltenham Festival: A View From The Trenches

How very… titillating. Image: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth.

I’ve lived in Cheltenham for much of my life and therefore feel totally qualified to chip in on this whole ‘Cheltenham Festival/Massacre’ debate.

However, it should probably be noted that if I lived in Guatemala, I would still feel the need to stick my nose in. The faster internet connection I would invariably have if this was the case would merely encourage me.

Image: ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images.

Contrary to popular opinion, opponents of horseracing and other sports in which animals are exploited for entertainment do not have a problem with people enjoying themselves. We are well aware that horses can and do suffer terrible leg breaks and injuries when gambolling around fields with their friends, and that they love competitive racing.  Oh, and we’re totally clear that their owners and trainers love them unconditionally and are devastated if they fall over during a race and have to be slaughtered on the side of the track while the race continues.

What actually pisses us off is the overwhelming stink of complacency that follows this kind of sporting event around like a vapor trail. Not only do the people who attend the Cheltenham Festival treat the town like a waste dump, get pissed witless every night, make it impossible for residents to go about their business without suffering verbal abuse and spray every edifice with urine like insecure canines, they seem to believe it is their right to do so because they’re spending money here.

It inevitably follows that because there is so much money to be made from horseracing, the minor inconvenience of a few horses dying is one worth bearing and can be easily mitigated with a few photos of punters and presenters looking sad in the newspapers the following day.

It might make you feel better, but not us.

Truth be told, your average punter doesn’t give a crap about anything as long as they have a good time. Thanks for your cash, but please, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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