Cheltenham Festival to impose alcohol restriction

Organisers hope four-drink cap will help avoid repeat of last year’s antisocial behaviour

Horse racing fans are facing restrictions on drinking in a bid to crack down on antisocial behaviour at popular meetings.

Punters attending this year's Cheltenham Festival will be restricted to buying four alcoholic drinks at a time and there will be water points available in every public bar.

The same limit will be enforced at key events at The Jockey Club's other courses, which include Aintree, the home of the Grand National, and Epsom, which stages the Derby.

The measure is being introduced initially at the Gloucestershire course, which attracts a crowd of more than 260,000 for the four-day event starting on March 14th.


The second day of last year’s festival was marred by newspaper photographs of footballers getting drunk, women baring their breasts and two people urinating into beer glasses.

Ian Renton, chief executive of the Cheltenham Festival, said he was determined there would not be a repeat of the behaviour of last year.

"Our message is enjoy yourself and have a great day out at the races but don't come here purely to drink," he told The Times newspaper.

“It’s not what we want, it’s not the sort of publicity we want for the racecourse. We want to ensure all racegoers can enjoy their racegoing unhindered by people drinking irresponsibly.

“We are reinforcing our standard procedures, increasing the training of staff, and the briefing of managers, and ensured that every member of bar staff has to have watched a video on responsible drinking.”

The racecourse is also working with Gloucestershire Police and Cheltenham Borough Council to improve safety.


For the first time, anybody who will be distributing free promotional material – including flyers, newspapers, stickers, scarfs and hats – must apply for a permit.

There will also be a crackdown on ticket touts and checks will be carried out on street traders.

Council officers will also be able to issue on the spot fines to anybody who refuses to stop drinking in a designated area or refuses to surrender their alcohol. Previously only the police could take action.

Cllr Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety, said: “The Cheltenham Festival is a very important week for Cheltenham but equally places a great strain on local police and council resources.

“The event has been consistently growing over the years which has prompted the police, council, racecourse and other partners to rethink some aspects of our work to keep the event safe, well managed and to minimise the disruption to the local residents.

“We have introduced a number of new initiatives this year in partnership with the police and the racecourse to assist us in managing the event.”

Insp Roddy Gosden, from Gloucestershire police, said: "As in previous years, police and council licensing officers will be visiting bars and clubs during the week to ensure venues are abiding by the rules.

“This time we’re going to have more of an emphasis on ensuring those who are drunk are not continually served and end up in either a vulnerable state or causing disorder.”