Cheltenham Festival’s wildest moments as race goes remote for Covid pandemic

The Cheltenham Festival is notorious for scenes of drunken revelry and scandalous behaviour.

But the event will look quite different this year, with coronavirus restrictions requiring all races take place behind closed doors with no crowd of thousands cheering the jockeys on.

It's for good reason — Cheltenham 2020 went ahead despite the pandemic accelerating at the time, and public health experts believed the mingling of 150,000 people likely contributed to the spread of Covid-19 in the UK.

But that doesn't mean we won't miss the fun and frivolity of the four-day festival, famous for the loud "Cheltenham roar" that goes up as the tape is raised for the first race.

Here are some of the highlights of past races that saw Brits engage in flashing, streaking, brawling and throwing up after one too many — despite the Jockey Club warning that it operates a "responsible drinking policy".

Mad scenes in 2016 led to an attempt to curb binge drinking at Cheltenham.

Love Island babes Katie Salmon and Jess Hayes were even banned from the event after they both flashed their breasts to photographers.

Other women have also been spotted flashing for the camera or for the benefit of other racegoers over the years.

In 2016 (a particularly eventful year) a streaker had to be tackled by security after running naked across the course during the Foxhunter Chase.

Paul Cooke, 47, was arrested and later charged with an act of outraging public decency.

  • Cheltenham Festival 2016: Naked man halts Victoria Pendleton in Foxhunter Steeple Chase

But while some people opt for no clothes at all, others go all-out with costumes.

Many racegoers embrace the theme and turn up dressed as racehorses themselves, ignoring the disapproving looks from neigh-sayers.

One man even celebrated his stag do at the 2012 races, showing up dressed as a jockey with his own horse attached.

Fist fights are common at racing events, with attendees getting caught up in the atmosphere and having a go at one another.

The free-flowing alcohol is also a likely factor in race day violence.

Cheltenham Festival had to beef up its security in 2019 after a spate of nasty brawls at other events including Haydock, where a group of around 40 men traded blows.

  • Booze flows again at Cheltenham Festival after footie stars group banned

But for the most part, crowds at Cheltenham are friendly — if a little rowdy.

Photos from previous events show attendees palling around and celebrating wins together.

Racegoers both male and female relish the opportunity to get dressed up in their glad rags, with a lot of women putting their best foot forward on Ladies Day.

Sky-high heels, fascinators and short skirts are the order of the day.

Meanwhile some members of the crowd go in for even smaller outfits.

Scantily clad samba dancers showed up at the races in 2012, standing out in their traditional Brazilian attire including an enormous feathered headdress.

Cheltenham is famous for its drinking culture, with attendees throwing back pints of beer and glasses of champagne and often ending up a little worse for wear by the end of each race day.

Guinness is a particularly popular beverage as the festival usually coincides with St Patrick's Day.

A message on the Jockey Club website states: "Please kindly note that bringing your own alcoholic drink on site is strictly prohibited.

"Cheltenham operates a responsible drinking policy and all staff are trained to the highest standards.

"Please note that visitors to Cheltenham Racecourse will be restricted to buying up to four alcoholic drinks at a time."

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