The Cheltenham Festival was given the green light to go ahead by the government despite increasing calls from the public for the festival to be cancelled. Many people have been left questioning why the Festival still took place and organisers have faced widespread criticism. It was one of the last events to go ahead before the government put restrictions on mass gatherings.
Despite the coronavirus fears Callum Horne from London was one of thousands of people who attended all four days of the Festival “I didn’t think going to the Festival would have an impact on me getting the coronavirus. We still had fun and we didn’t think the Coronavirus is as bad as the hysteria the media put out there. It was a good week of racing, everyone had fun. There wasn’t really any talk about the coronavirus at all.”
Over 250,000 people attended the annual event over a four-day period but attendance was down by 14,000 people from last years record breaking attendance.
The Jockey Club introduced extra hygiene measures at the event which included hand sanitiser dispensers and additional wash basins.
Horne explains how he used the additional facilities “Every time we walked passed we would put a bit of gel on and at the end of the day all of the machines with the gel in were pretty much empty. I think a lot of people were more conscious compared to normal.”
If the Festival had been cancelled Horne thinks punters would have been frustrated but would have also understood the decision “everyone would have been a bit annoyed but I could have understood why. I think everyone would have been annoyed especially owners, trainers, jockeys because they all work for Cheltenham which is the biggest week in the calendar”.
Numerous racegoers have claimed that they have started to show symptoms for the coronavirus since attending the Festival.
The British Horse Racing Authority has announced that all meetings until the end of April have been cancelled including the Grand National which was due to take place on Saturday 4th April.