Cheltenham Festival Thoughts – Andy Lyons

Name: Andy Lyons

Festivals Attended: At Least 10

Why do you love the Festival?

It’s the pinnacle of the National Hunt season, and for many the culmination of a lot of work. The atmosphere in Cheltenham during Festival week is second to none, I would recommend to anybody that they sample it at least once in their lifetime. Even if you don’t follow horseracing, you can’t help but caught up in the drama, and I defy anybody not to get goosebumps when the “Cheltenham Roar” goes up for the first time!

Best Festival Memory and Biggest Festival Win?

My best memory & biggest win are probably one & the same thing. Sublimity winning the Champion Hurdle in 2007 – if you watch the C4 coverage closely, you can actually see me & a mate jumping up & down by the finish line like a pair of lunatics!

 Do you have a favourite day and why?

Tuesday for me is the best day – everybody is fresh & full of hope! Plus across the card, I think the races on Tuesday are the best.

What advice would you give someone going for the first time?

Have a hearty breakfast!

Which enclosure do you prefer?

Generally I go in the Tatts during the Festival, although this year, I will be sampling the Club Enclosure for the first time on Gold Cup Day – should be a special day!

What is your general approach to betting? Any strong advice for someone betting at the festival for the first time?

Sounds boring & a bit of a cliché but I only bet what I can afford to lose. Over the years I’ve learnt not to overload myself by reading too many “expert opinions” (except the Major of course!). Having said that, there’s nothing better than getting a tip off somebody “in the know” – usually a drunk Irish fella you’ve met in a bar who knows the trainer/jockey/owner/stable boy….

What one thing is a ‘must do’ or ‘must see’ at the festival?

Sample a pint of Guinness in the Guinness Village – ok, it’s served in a plastic glass, but with the Irish band playing in the background, it will still taste better than any other pint of Guinness you’ve had!

Are there any other things you like to do each year around course?

I’ll normally take a stroll around some of the stalls, but the main focus is finding a good spot in the betting ring, and the best place to get a drink

Anything to avoid?

The men’s port-a-loos in the Guinness Village towards the end of the day. The words “Bio Hazard” spring to mind!!

Do you do after racing entertainment / eating in Cheltenham?

If so, where? After the long trek into town, I normally head to the nearest pub – usually The Conservatory where you’re guaranteed a good crowd of fellow race goers and some decent music. If we’re lucky enough to find a table, we’re settle in for a few hands of cards which in the past few years has proved very profitable for me – more so than the racing if I’m honest

As I’ve already said, the atmosphere in Cheltenham during Festival Week is amazing, all the pubs will be packed, so wherever you end up, you can be sure of a good night!

Any other advice for a newcomer to the festival?

A friend sent me the following passage today, which I think sums it up perfectly :

If you can take one heap of all your winnings,

And risk it on one turn of pitch and toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings,

And never breathe a word about your loss

You’re in the wrong place my son,

This is Cheltenham – get stuck in!”

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