While the last 12 months have brought about “huge, huge challenges” for Cheltenham Racecourse in how they deliver the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, the track are completely focused on making the four days “the best we possibly can”.
The track have opted to maintain an optimistic mindset with their approach to this years Festival, despite the fact there will be no spectators as a result of COVID-19.
ITV Racing have had a major role to play on behalf of the sport throughout the course of the pandemic, and Cheltenham have worked alongside the broadcaster to launch new cameras and technology in time for the Festival.
David Mackinnon, Operations Manager, said: “We’re putting the final pieces of the jigsaw into place now to welcome a very minimal number of people sadly because of the current Government restrictions. We’ve had huge, huge challenges in terms of how we deliver this event.”
“We’ve kicked that negative thought into the long grass and thought how can we make this the best we possibly can? We’ve got a responsibility and a desire to make it absolutely outstanding.”
“It has certainly been informative and interesting. We’ve had to be very agile and very understanding of the situation.”
“Our ITV audiences have been around 20% higher all year which is fantastic. Our audience here generally peaks at about 1.4m on Gold Cup day, but we’re expecting huge numbers in comparison to that.”
Racegoers should start returning to racecourses by May after the roadmap out of lockdown was recently published by the UK Government, with demand for the 2022 Cheltenham Festival expected to be high.
Mackinnon said: “I think there are a lot of things we’ve learnt throughout this COVID period and some of those things will remain in terms of health and hygiene measures, but we’re really looking forward to bringing them (fans) back and a big part of that is 2022.”