Cheltenham, home of Jump Racing and at the heart of almost every aspect of jumping. And recently we have seen a week of some of the biggest events of the year pass us, and I was lucky enough to be attend 2 of them. The lovely people at Ladbrokes, the official sponsors of Cheltenham, kindly gave myself and some lovely other bloggers the opportunity to experience the Golden package at Ladies Day on the 15th March to get a full flavour of what the races have to offer. This was my first ever time going to the races (which is weird seeming as I do live really close!) and coincidentally my friends and I had booked tickets for the St. Patrick’s day races the following day, so most definitely got a good taste for the experience!
Throughout writing this post a thought hit me – why the heck is it called Ladies Day??? So, a history lesson for you all: in the 1800’s, George III and Queen Charlotte used to attend the Gold Cup at the Royal Ascot on the third day of the meeting. Thus race-goers had to adhere to a rather strict dress code, men, top hats and morning dress and women, shoulders and midriffs must be covered and a hat or fascinator must be worn. And Ladies Day has developed as a day for women to embody their inner princess and feel on par with the glamour of the royals, especially the queen. Queen for a day – how beautiful is that?
Anyway, onto the day itself…
As much as I love Cheltenham, and as beautiful as it is, when the races come around the place becomes a tad haywire. As I don’t live too far away I decided to get a lift in to the train station to meet fellow bloggers Abbey, who I had already met once before at #BloggersAreUs, Hayley and Joelle who I hadn’t met before but of course were so lovely! From the station there were busses and taxis specifically for taking people to the races which makes the whole transport situation so much easier! And our return bus ticket was only £5 (even though I may have lost it so had to buy another one…oops). On arrival at the station I was also pleasantly surprised by the order and calmly atmosphere they had. Of course there was a sea of queues and colourful dresses, and it was a bit daunting trying to find people in it but we did it! And once we actually got into the queue we got through really quickly and hopped onto a bus. And after a lot of creeping through the floods of traffic we made it to the races…then had to find our way around…
But saying that all the staff were so lovely and got us where we needed to be, and in our fashionably late way met with Carrie, collected our tickets and passes and then made our way for lunch.
I can’t say we were hard done by when it comes to the facilities. Our table and room were both very lovely, with screens showing the races, so we didn’t miss a thing and access outside to see everything from a higher platform and incredible service throughout. We were even given a free glass of champagne from the manager just for looking good – don’t mind if I do! We had this table all day so there was no need to worry about our stuff throughout the day as it was always in a safe place. The menu for the day was also very impressive, I didn’t know what to expect prior to the event but being a vegetarian I didn’t expect much of a choice, if any. But was glad to see options, which all looked good! But I went with a starter of peaches and mozzarella, a combination I had never heard of, but worked so well together.
For main I went with oyster mushrooms with asparagus and a garlic sauce and have you ever had those moments where you just don’t want a meal to end? Well those were my exact feelings throughout this course.
I didn’t think it could be much better after this, but pudding didn’t disappoint. I went with a rhubarb and custard pana cota, again something I had never heard of before. But it was so good – I work in a quality 4* restaurant so can be quite judgemental when it comes to this sort of food. However they did not fail to please, everything was so well done from the creation of the menu to the garlic sauce (still dreaming about that garlic sauce…).
After this came the cheese course…then the afternoon tea – the food baby was all too real. What was nice was that we could choose when we would like our cheese and tea, it wasn’t forced upon us and we could take a nice walk around before coming back to it.
We didn’t actually see much of the course itself, it’s a lot bigger than we all anticipated I think and it was hard to know where to go first. But we did take a walk around to really take in the whole atmosphere, and you can’t help but really get into the races feeling when you’re there – it’s pretty contagious. We were also so lucky with the weather we had which just made everything so much better.
Now, the dress. I can’t say I’m a big dresses person nor a colourful person so when the dress code was colour and of course fancy frocks – it left me with days of scrolling through endless pages of dresses and shoes. But I found an outfit, and even had a few weeks to spare. Both my dress and shoes are from Asos and I took this scarf just to throw over in case it got chilly, which was a gift to my mum.
Overall, the whole event and being a queen for a day was amazing and I couldn’t be more grateful for it. This package is priced at a hefty £370, so not an easy spend but definitely something you should look into investing once in your life.
As I said this day I went with my friends on the more standard package – so was a completely different experience. We set off early to try avoid some of the traffic and get a good parking spot. If you buy online parking tickets were £8 but on the day they were £15 – which is a lot but I’ve seen worse. Again our arrival was pretty swift and orderly and then onto our first port of call – the Guinness village. The whole atmosphere is as expected, busy and buzzing. Definitely more claustrophobic than the day before, but everyone is happy and excited and as I said – it’s pretty contagious. The same pretty much goes for the tatterstalls, we were lucky enough to get a good spot at the front which was right by the finish line, so got a great view. But there wasn’t much moving space – that’s as expected though.
As for food, there was no fancy three course meal but there was plenty to choose from around. From burgers to fish and chips to mac and cheese, and all at reasonable prices (that is for festival food) and honestly the food was really good, I can’t knock it really I mean, just look at these chips…
I also treated myself to a waffle later on, because how could I not??
The drinks were also okay in price, I was a bit shocked to see wine was £6.30 but everything else wasn’t badly priced at all.
This days’ dress code was much less strict, you still had people all suited and booted and the odd fancy frock, but the whole thing was a lot more casual. I went with the bog standard black jeans, off white blouse and some ankle boots – can’t really go wrong!
The experience was so much different from the one I’d had before, definitely much more relaxed and fun. And a bit stressful when my friend lost her phone and the staff weren’t all that helpful…but we got it back so it’s okay. Our standard tatterstall tickets were £55, there were cheaper ones at £30 but overall I’d say it’s definitely worth the money and a really unique experience to have!
This was possibly the longest blog post EVER but I do hope you liked it!
Until next time,
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*DISCLAIMER* As mentioned earlier, the ticket for Ladies day was kindly given to me by Ladbrokes so a huge thank you to them. The other ticket was paid for by myself.