With 900 accredited journalists, 350 chefs, 250 bookmakers and 100 helicopter flights a day, it is little wonder that the famous annual Cheltenham Festival which gets under way tomorrow can claim to be the biggest jump meeting in the world.
The four-day event presented by Magners, which runs until Friday, is worth more than £100 million to the local economy of Gloucestershire in the heart of the English Cotswolds. ATM machines will be working overtime again and are likely to beat the £2.35m taken from the cash machines at the festival last year.
Horseracing fans from Ireland spent €22.3m at the festival in 2016 spread across travel, accommodation, tickets and entertainment. That could rise to €25m at this year's event.
But the money goes in more than one direction. The total prize fund of £4.6m on offer - the most of any jump festival in the world – amounts to more than £1m per day.
While the bookies will hope to lighten the pockets of racegoers, the hospitality organisers will be filling their bellies. A catering team of 3,800 will be operating for each day of the event who will serve 45,000 afternoon teas to customers. There will be eight furlongs of temporary bar counters for thirsty customers. Each year racegoers typically consume:
As always, the Irish will be in abundance, both as spectators and as jockeys, owners and trainers. More than 25,000 Irish fans are expected to be in attendance during the festival. Ryanair has put on 30 extra flights on the Dublin to Birmingham route, carrying around 20,000 passengers.
Anglo-Irish rivalry is expected to reach fever pitch again this year. Irish trained horses have dominated the festival for the past four years. Irish horses made Cheltenham their own once again in 2018 and a final tally of 17 winners saw Irish trainers post the second highest tally ever at the Festival.
In 2017, Irish-trained horses won a record 19 out of 28 races at the Festival, topping the previous mark of 15 the year before.
Our own racing legend Ruby Walsh retains the distinction of having the most wins by a jockey in a single year.
There are five feature races run during the festival, including the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, Unibet Champion Hurdle, the Ryanair Chase and SunBets Stayers’ Hurdle.
The festival commences with Champion Day tomorrow with the highlight set to be the G1 Unibet Champion Hurdle. The G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase over two miles takes centre stage on Ladies Day on Wednesday while the G1 Ryanair Chase and the Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle tops off the St Patrick's card on Thursday.
Gold Cup Day on Friday is the culmination of the festival, with the feature £625,000 G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, due off at 3.30pm, always one of the most eagerly anticipated races at Cheltenham.
In all 43 horses have been put in the race for this year's Gold Cup. Irish trainers have made a record 24 entries, with champion trainer Willie Mullins entering nine and Gordon Elliott entering a team of seven.