What is the Cheltenham roar? What difference does it make in races?

The Cheltenham roar is one of the most talked-about experiences at the Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham roar


Horse racing betting is all about the experience and while you might not be able to visit Cheltenham this year, it doesn’t mean you can’t join in on all the action.

Here at Paddy Power our Cheltenham Festival betting suite offers literally thousands of markets covering every race of the four-day meeting. And one of the things you’ll notice when you live stream Cheltenham is the incredible roar heard from the grandstands on Day One.

So what is the Cheltenham roar? This guide will explain what it’s all about, why it exists and – sadly – why we won’t be hearing it in 2021.

What is the Cheltenham roar?

Cheltenham is famed for its incredible atmosphere as 71,000 spectators cram into the grandstands to watch elite-level horse racing each day of the four-day meet. Cheltenham really does have a party atmosphere that can be fuelled by dazzling sunshine in mid-March if the punters are lucky!

While the horses will get used to the noise of the crowd as they trot around the parade ring and gallop up to the start of the race, what no-one is quite ready for is the sheer noise of the Cheltenham roar.

The Cheltenham roar is a cry made by the thousands of racing betting fans in the grandstands when the starter raises the tape for the first race of the festival. This takes place on Tuesday with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, a Grade 1 race that runs on the Old Course over 2 miles and 1/2 furlong. The noise is likened to a jumbo jet flying overhead and is the starting call for four days of amazing racing action.

Cheltenham roar

Cheltenham Festival is famed for its raucous and knowledgable fans (GETTY)

Does the Cheltenham roar make a difference to the race?

You might think the jockeys would be inspired when they hear the Cheltenham roar at the start of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. But as Ruby Walsh told Paddy Power’s Countdown To Cheltenham podcast, you can barely hear it when you’re on the horse!

“I can’t say that I ever did hear the ‘Cheltenham Roar’ at the start of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle,” said Ruby. “Last year (2020) was obviously the first year that I was at the Festival working for ITV, so I was behind the grandstand in the parade ring and I didn’t think there was anything untoward about the ‘Cheltenham Roar’ from that side of the stand.

“Maybe if you’re on the front side you might hear and feel it way more, but when you’re at the bottom of the home straight at Cheltenham – at the 2m start – it’s just a distant din in the background.”

Will we hear the Cheltenham roar in 2021?

OK, so the Cheltenham roar is more a media and fan spectacle than something that actually affects the racing. But even so, sadly it looks unlikely that the Cheltenham roar will rattle our eardrums in 2021. That’s because there is not expected to be any horse racing fans attending the 2021 Cheltenham Festival due to social discerning restrictions.

Still, there’s no reason why you can’t roar at your Cheltenham live stream if you decide to watch Day One live come Tuesday of festival week!



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