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banner Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 16:07 GMT
The A-Z of Cheltenham
Cheltenham Racecourses
Horses on the gallops at Cheltenham Racecourse
From Atmosphere to Zara, BBC Sport Online's Frank Keogh gives you an alphabetical guide to the Cheltenham Festival.

Atmosphere - Not the kind that comic singer Russ Abbott once crooned about. This is the buzz, the anticipation and sheer excitement of the world's biggest jumps race meeting.

Betting - And plenty of it. Millions of pounds will be staked on course and at betting shops. In Cheltenham, many of them will open at 0800 GMT each day to meet demand.

Craic - What the Irish, who travel over in their thousands, call the bonhomie and enjoyment as they revel in top-class racing, and the odd drink or two.

Dark horses - Watch out for the long shots. Norton's Coin won the Gold Cup priced 100-1 in 1990. Favourites do not have a great recent record in the race.

English - Plus the Welsh and Scottish. There is a hefty home contingent, to join the invasion from overseas. On average, about two-thirds of the winners come from England.

Foot-and-mouth - Only whisper it, just in case. The dreaded disease caused the 2001 Festival to be abandoned.

Boys from the black stuff: Guinness is popular

Guinness - Gallons and gallons of it are drunk each year. Some bars at the course only serve the black stuff. There's even a Guinness Village, populated by marquees, where entertainment is laid on.

Horses - The stars of the show. Cheltenham boasts the best National Hunt competitors in the world.

Istabraq - Ireland's legendary triple champion hurdler who is bidding for an unprecedented fourth triumph.

JP McManus - Owner of Istabraq, and several other leading Cheltenham Festival fancies. Renowned gambler who stakes 100,000 where the rest of us have a sneaky fiver.

Kicking yourself - When that horse you first picked, before changing your mind, romps home at annoyingly long odds. "I was looking at him," you'll say to disbelieving listeners.

Luck - Everyone wants a bit of it - trainers, owners, jockeys, bookmakers and punters.

Montpellier - The 'posh' end of Cheltenham. Home to the famous Queen's Hotel, which welcomes hundreds of racegoers, and has the next day's prices on boards near the entrance.

Next race, next day, next year - There's always something to look forward to, even if results are not going your way.

O'Neill, O'Brien, O'Dwyer - Oh my! Great Cheltenham winners include jockeys Jonjo O'Neill and Conor O'Dwyer, plus legendary trainers Vincent and Aidan O'Brien.

Promenade - The heart of Cheltenham town centre. Yet among the English, Irish and French accents on the thoroughfare, there's always room for a few South American pipe players.

Queen Mother
Queen Mother: Royal race lover

Queen Mother - The world's most famous centenarian loves racing, and enjoys nothing better, health permitting, than waving to the crowds in Pittville and Prestbury as she arrives for the Champion Chase named after her on the Wednesday of the Festival.

Room - There's not a lot of it as racegoers bunch up at the course. Despite a 50,000 limit on capacity, there are queues for everything - entrance, exit, food, drinks, bets, toilets, cashpoint.

Stars - Particularly footballers revel in a day at the races. Manchester United's players usually pay a visit, while Liverpool's Robbie Fowler has a financial share in some horses.

Ticket touts - They seem to outnumber the police, who do little to stop them trading.

Unforgiving - The racecourse's undulations, especially the uphill finish which has sapped the energy of many apparent winners.

Victory salute - It's a wonder some winning jockeys stay on their mounts as they gesture to the crowd.

X-rated - Some of the crunching falls which horses and jockeys have to endure at top speed.

Yell - Roar, cheer...the riders and runners become personal friends as punters urge their encouragement.

Zara Phillips
Zara Phillips promotes Cheltenham's 18-24 club

Zara Phillips - Jockey Richard Johnson's girlfriend, daughter of Princess Anne and president of Cheltenham Racecourse's 18-24 Club. The couple were once alleged to have brawled in the street, earning lots of newspaper coverage. Sure to be followed by photographers.

Links to more Cheltenham Festival stories are at the foot of the page.


Links to more Cheltenham Festival stories

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