As punters descend upon Cheltenham in their thousands for the biggest event in the jump racing calendar, locals shake heads disconcertedly at the trouble that these crowds are expected to bring to their often quiet, empty streets. But they wouldn’t, and more importantly couldn’t afford to, have it any other way, could they?
Each year Cheltenham’s economic health skyrockets due to the arrival of the festival. Booze, food and bets, however strong your moral compass may be, ultimately means big business for Cheltenham’s high street.
It has been speculated that The Festival can boost the local economy by upwards of £100 million so we’re not exactly talking small margins when it comes to money.
On Gold Cup Friday bars can expect up to a 500% increase in accumulated revenue. For Vodka Revolution’s Cheltenham branch manager Mark Jones, this can only be positive for his business and the town in general.
“A normal Friday we’ll take around twenty thousand, this Friday we’re expected to take 105,000 and I’m pretty sure it’ll be more than that.
“For me, this is the week that enables us to stay open for the rest of the year and I know that goes for a lot of other business in the area as well.
“Take the races away, take the punters away, and a lot of business would follow suit, this is the week where you can turn your annual losses into annual profits and that’s the most important thing to a business.”
Cheltonians have fallen victim to the loss of restaurant, Montpellier Lodge, and popular pub, The Sudley Arms in recent months.
Now, with highly rated watering hole, Wild Beer, announcing their impending closure, the streets could begin to look a lot more empty if certain locals get their own way.
Mark’s feelings are shared by Cheltenham nightclub manager, Lex. After speaking with her you begin to understand why this week is so vital to the survival of so many businesses in the area.
“For a club like Fever, I can’t stress enough the importance of race-week.
“For the last, well I’ve been manager here for six years, so for the whole time I’ve been here we’ve made the same amount in race-week as we have in the whole first three quarters of the year added together.
“Christmas and New Year’s aside, Races bring more money into Cheltenham than anything else, it’s not even remotely close.”
Whilst locals might not enjoy the antisocial behaviour that has become so closely associated with race goers, or the troves of litter left by those same individuals, they most certainly benefit from their flying visit in the grand scheme of things.
So, if you’re one of those locals that is currently enjoying a drink at your favourite bar, or a meal at your favourite restaurant, you might want to consider their own fate were it not for the thousands of race spectators expected to arrive over the coming days.