County economy set for £50million boost as racegoers arrive for this week's Festival
THE county economy is set for a £50 million boost as racecourse goers splash out during this week's Cheltenham Festival.
Cotswold Tourism said the figure will be generated as around 230,000 race-goers attend Prestbury Park over the four day event.
Hotels, B&Bs, night clubs, bars and restaurants are all set to benefit from the crowds as an estimated 10,000 extra beds are filled each night in Cheltenham alone.
At the racecourse, almost £600 million will be staked on the outcome of the 27 races. Catering at Cheltenham will serve some 20,000 bottles of champagne, 30,000 bottles of wine, 240,000 bottles of beer and lager and 220,000 pints of Guinness, plus 10,000 gallons of tea and coffee.
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Around 12,000 people will sit down to three or four course lunches in restaurants and hospitality areas each day, while the rest will eat burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches, that if laid end to end, would stretch almost three miles.
And 30,000 cars, 2,000 coaches and 50 stretch limos will bring more than 65,000 to Cheltenham on Friday's Gold Cup day as about 650 helicopters land at the course. Flights and trains will also be full.
More than £1.5 million was drawn from the 20 cashpoints around the site last year, refilling pockets, handbags and wallets before punters returned to battle bookies.
Ian Renton is facing his first Festival as boss of Cheltenham Racecourse and said preparations have gone well despite bad weather.
The Jockey Club Racecourses regional director for Cheltenham and the South West said despite a sales dip after the cancellation of the New Year's Day fixture, hospitality and ticket sales were "very positive" and would not effect sales for the rest of the year.
Mr Renton, who is currently based at Cheltenham four or five days a week, said the quality of horses running in this year's Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup race was "extremely high".
"It is unbelievably exciting, it is wonderful leading up to such a fantastic festival and our team is very busy," he said.
Prize money at this year's Festival is almost £3.8 million, an increase of £430,000 on 2012, with an average of £141,000 per race. Around half that total comes from race sponsors.
The value of this year's Gold Cup race is £550,000, £50,000 more than last year.
The Gold Cup trophy is minted each year. It is made of 10 ounces of gold, which makes it worth around £10,500 this year.