Gold Cup Newsflash
Cheltenham bound? Here's where to stay, eat, carouse and pamper, brought to you by your #intheknow (er, super nosey) Muddy team.
Photo Tim Goode/PA Wire
The wait is over – racing season returns to Gloucestershire in its inimitable and oh-so-alluring style with The Gold Cup, where glamour, glory and very, very fast gee gees all rock up at Cheltenham. Tempted by four days of fabulous racing, shopping to die for, delicious food and bubbles (you’ll find me in the Champagne Bar), we at Muddy poked our noses into the equine action to find out more.
Ready for the pinnacle Jump racing event of the year, with an atmosphere that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up? This year’s fixture looks set to be as jammed packed with top quality racing and family activities as always. After Day One: Champion Day it’s our fave, Ladies Day (obvs), the Queen Mother of all racedays where city girls become country girls and tweed becomes fashionably becoming. Spin to win in the fashion stakes – to enter (boys, you’re welcome too this year) simply wear a colour that will catch the eye and those that shine bright will be spotted by the on course Fashion team and, having had their photo taken, will be entered into the competition.
The #ColourMeMarch fashion competition will see the four finalists spin the Winning Post of Fortune to land their prize – a diamond Boodles necklace, a brand new Mini ONE from W.O Lewis Badges and Synter Solihull, an overnight spa break at the luxurious Lygon Arms Hotel, £250 of fashion vouchers or a beauty and style experience in the new Cheltenham store thanks to John Lewis and Partners. Holy c***!
Day Three is St Patrick’s Thursday, part of England, forever Ireland, as they say. It’s all eyes a-smiling as the team from the Emerald Isle attempts domination once more – a typically Irish affair with the Guinness Village as star attraction. And finally, Gold Cup Day, where legends are created, the racing world stops to witness sporting excellence and the best Jump horses in the world take to the stage.
Fancy a splurge? Shop ’til you drop at the famous Shopping Village, the Cotswolds premiere destination for all things fashion. Think couture bags and belts, luxury home accessories, handcrafted children’s wear, bespoke tailoring, hats for every occasion, artworks and the perfect race day outfit for both ladies and gents.
Phew – I think that’s it! Ready to book? I’ll race you to it…visit www.cheltenham.co.uk or call 0344 579 3003 to book tickets. Those aged 18 to 24 are able to purchase half price tickets for Ladies Day by signing up to racepass18to24.co.uk.
WHERE TO STAY
When Race Week rides into town most places in Cheltenham get booked out a year in advance, but fear not my friends, we’ve discovered some gems where you can see out the week in high style. Don’t tell anyone else about them though!
Even by Regency Cheltenham’s standards, the Malmaison is rather special. Formerly The Savoy (yes, we’re in high-end hotel land here), it boasts impeccable period features, as well as a rather swish contemporary flourish out back in the form of a shapely steel and glass extension by Gherkin architect Ken Shuttleworth. The interiors are über-stylish, with Eames chairs and avant-garde paintings dotted around the place, and a cool, laid-back ambience. The brasserie has a beautifully tiled open kitchen where artfully crafted modern dishes are created. The bar rocks cocktails and good times by night and lattés and loungers by day. And the Victorian conservatory with its wicker chairs and envy-inducing tiled flooring is the perfect setting for afternoon tea. malmaison.com
Cheltenham Lawn Guest House, Cheltenham
We like things a bit quirky at Muddy which is why when we stumbled upon this guest house and art gallery in Cheltenham’s swanky Pittville neighbourhood, we did a little dance. Run by artist Anthea Miller, it’s a bohemian dream with artwork in every room, elegant chandeliers and all the Regency features of the handsome townhouse still intact. It’s the kind of place you could imagine Vanessa Bell and the rest of the Bloomsbury set hanging out! There are six guest rooms, each one with its own unique character but all rather wonderfully opulent with sumptuous throws and cushions, and in one room there’s even a magnificent four-poster bed that looks just the ticket for dreaming creative thoughts. It’s on a tranquil, tree-lined Regency avenue which is perfectly located for pretty much everything. You’re five minutes from the centre’s shops, bars and restaurants, on the doorstep of the glorious Pittville Park and Pump Room, where health visitors used to take the spa water, a only a ten-minute walk from the Racecourse. Perfection. cheltenhamlawn.co.uk
Big & Beautiful: Waterhead Barn, near Stow-on-the-Wold, sleeps 12-13
Wow, this barn conversion is something else. Serious exposed wooden beams you’ll be wanting to swing from; high, high, high ceilings; serene, airy interiors; fabulous wooden flooring; and to-die-for furnishings – this is the sort of place that would send Kevin McCloud into ecstasies of purple prose. Outside is as standout as inside with bi-fold doors that open out onto a ginormous terrace, and you’re right on the doorstep of Stow-on-the-Wold with all its gastro pubs and cutesy boutiques. But, more to the point, you’re only a few furlongs away from Cheltenham’s Jockey Club so you can motor in for the fun and then exit for your slice of bucolic peace and quiet before the next day’s races. (Or have a party – whatever floats your boat.) staycotswold.com
Small & Perfectly Formed, Marsh Farm Barn, Bourton-on-the-Water, sleeps 2
This stunning conversion set in the grounds of a 130-acre farm is in an utterly idyllic, rural setting with beautiful views of the wild Cotswolds. Although in a tranquil location with loads of great walks nearby (including the Cotswold Diamond Way if you fancy it) it is also a mere stiletto’s throw from popular Bourton-on-the-Water, Venice of the Cotswolds no less. staycotswold.com
FEELING HUNGRY? THIRSTY?
Cheltenham absolutely heeeaaaves during Race Week, so check out these in-the-know, pre-bookable options and then sit back and feel smug about how clever you’ve been!
Breakfast at The Greenway, Shurdington, 12-15 March
Kick off your race week morning with a celebratory breakfast for £25 per person. A fab way to start the day. www.thegreenwayhotelandspa.com
The Hollow Bottom Gold Cup Day, Guiting Power, 15 March
Not got a ticket to the big day? Meh, who cares when you can soak up the atmosphere at the racing pub of the county (it was once owned by the big cheese horse trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, don’t you know). The Hollow Bottom has the gee-gees running through its veins and to say the pub works up quite an atmosphere during the big week is something of an understatement. Book now for Gold Cup Day action – £125.00 per person to include a Champagne reception, 3 course meal with wine, mystery tipster, betting facilities and racing on all the big screens! Check out the Muddy review of the pub here. hollowbottom.com
The Camp Kitchen Pop-Up, Miserden, Thurs 14 Mar to Fri 15 Mar
Michelin trained Rory Baxter returns to Miserden kitchen for the Gold Cup and the Cheltenham Festival. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to taste this talented chef’s cuisine. www.miserden.org
The Looking Glass, Cheltenham
Our new fave restaurant in town, The Looking Glass, introduces “Farm to Fork” cooking with an emphasis on local produce from the Cotswolds. It’s a really exciting new venture from husband-and-wife team behind the Sixways Wine Bar coming together with chef/patron Leon Rook, bringing a seriously innovative new restaurant concept to Cheltenham. A mere stiletto’s throw from the centre of town with its fab shopping and theatres, The Looking Glass focuses on fresh, local, seasonal and…wait for it…foraged produce prepared using traditional and modern cooking methods. thelookingglasscheltenham.co.uk
Gold Cup at No. 38 The Park, Cheltenham, Tue 12 to Fri 15 March
This chichi Georgian number on the right side of town for the racecourse is an über-cool boutique hotel (you can also hire out the whole 13-bedroom townhouse for the party of your life!) that during Race Week opens up its hospitable arms for breakfast accompanied by your conventional tea and coffee, or for the rakish among you, Guinness and Bloody Mary (loving their style). They will also be running a pop-up bar from 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 8pm, and serving supper in the evenings with a rather tasty looking menu including tuna carpaccio, a blade of beef and chocolate & salted caramel tart. There’s an extra special Gold Cup Supper Menu on the last day when you can celebrate or drown your sorrows in the super salubrious surroundings. Tel: 01242 822929, theluckyonion.com
Cheltenham Festival at The Wild Rabbit, Kingham, Tue 12 to Fri 15 March
If you’ve found yourself a perch at this chic inn on the Daylesford estate, you’ll be well sorted for fodder during Race Week as the pub is packing racegoers off with a fancy pants wicker hamper for the day with everything you need, including rabbit and truffle butter paté with toast (yes, you need that), two bottles of Daylesford cider (definitely need that), a linen tablecloth and Daylesford tableware. Guests and non-guests alike can get the VIP picnic treatment and if you can’t make it to the Jockey Club, all the action will be screened on a TV by the warmth of the fire in the bar. And in the evenings, highlights will be replayed while you tuck into the bar menu, or, if you’ve worked up an appetite, a full dinner service including Jerusalem artichoke broth and lamb loin will be served in the restaurant. Tel: 01608 658389, thewildrabbit.co.uk