So you are going to Cheltenham for the first time next week...
You are a novice in terms of the greatest race meeting in the world. Hey, that's a beautiful thing. You will marvel and be overawed by the experience, whether you are testing your constitution by spending the whole week cheering on Irish horses or those that you have backed in the Cotswolds of England. You might be taking in 2 of the 4 days. It might be a day trip. One thing is certain, once you taste it the first time, you will want to return and return.
I met Davy Russell at Leopardstown on Sunday and he encapsulated the feeling that Irish people take over the town. He's right.
So what do you need to know? This will be my 16th Festival for Today FM, and I've seen it all at this stage.
- Eat a good breakfast
- Bring comfortable shoes, there's a lot of walking
- Cheltenham has it's own micro climate, so if rain is forecast, have a jacket as it will get cold
- Keep your head in terms of your betting stake, set a daily limit. There are 28 races, so why would you get carried away on day 1 and do your dough?
- Do your research, but don't over analyse it. You can get information overload.
- Trust your own instincts in terms of picking a horse. Cheltenham is hugely competitive, and just because a horse is a big price, it doesn't mean it has no chance.
- If your horse is 5/1 or more, bet each way.
- Beware of rails bookies offering poor each way terms and odds, so shop around. All major betting firms will want to entice punters, so use www.oddschecker.com for market comparison.
- 70,000 people in attendance every day make it very busy, so try and get your bearings of the course by arriving early and walking around.
- Savour the betting jungle a few minutes before the race.
- Watch the horses in the Paddock and cheer on the winners as they come into the enclosure.
- Drink responsibly, you don't want to be a few sheets to the wind before it gets dark. I've seen it get messy.
- Try and make new friends.
- Book restaurant tables in the town or in the environs of the town. Turning up without a booking might not cut it.
- Drink good ale.
- Bet on the Tote, especially for outsiders. You may get better odds.
- Try and get a good vantage point of the famous Cheltenham hill near the winning line.
- Beware of pickpockets.
- The donuts are good.
Next week you could be watching something as good as this in the flesh.
Our coverage of Cheltenham will be wall to wall. I will be on track from Monday, with live reports throughout the week, starting on the Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show at 7.30am on Tuesday morning. There will be charity bets with thanks to Betfair, insight, news, tips, craic, updates on the sports section of the website, regular Twitter updates @jduggantodayfm and @todayfmsport and Snapchat.
You'd be a donkey to miss our coverage!