On Tuesday March 11th, 45 members of the Pension PlayPen group will embark a London Double Decker bus at Paddington, drink and sing our way to Prestbury Park on the northern outskirts of Cheltenham and spend an afternoon in the company of 55,000 other folk admiring one of the greatest days racing in the world.
This is no exaggeration. Cheltenham is not just the culmination of the UK and Ireland National Hunt racing climax, it is the day the world turns its eyes on the very parochial goings on involving a small coterie of trainers owners and jockeys and a vast retinue as a supporting cast.
From the moment the tapes go up at the start of the Citroen Supreme Novices Hurdle to the long and winding procession back to the coaches or down the hill to town, this is a pure adrenalin high.
This is a day of cash, of Pounds and Euros, of Guinness and Champagne and of Tweed and leather. This is a day of dancing to the band in the Guinness Village, of meeting old friends and making new ones.
This is a day when the roar from the Grandstands rings round the giant bowl formed by Cleeve Hill and the surrounding Cotswolds.
But at the center of it all is the horse! The magnificent thoroughbreds groomed for the day, for the race – for the final pulsating furlong after they jump the last and fight their way up the hill in front of a pulsating crowd of hat throwing ,tearful, often drunken but always cheerful racegoers.
If you have never been to Cheltenham for the National Hunt Festival, there is a small part of your DNA that has not been fully connected. For I reckon those who return from that Festival are not quite the same.
It is not the winning or the losing, it is the human camaraderie and a primeval connection with one and a half tonne of steaming horse that has given everything and returns to the enclosures a Cheltenham horse.
So if you are inspired and want some of this. Here is what to do
- Take your diary and cancel every appointment on 11th March
- Write to those you were due to meet – explain you have a life-transforming invitation which you cannot afford to turn down
- Go to http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/jollyboys-outing-to-cheltenham-festival-tickets-9490118199
- Purchase one of the three remaining tickets on offer (don’t worry we can always make space for a few more!)
- Make arrangements to be at Paddington Station at 8.30 am on Tuesday 11th March to attend Cheltenham’s champions day on the Pension Play Pen Jollyboys outing!
See you on the bus!