It’s not every day that Ladbrokes invite you and several other bloggers along to Ladies Day at the Cheltenham Festival, and I was particularly excited as it was on my home turf!

Photo: @CassieMaie
Wednesday 15th March
Location: Cheltenham

I’ve only been to the Cheltenham Festival a couple of times and both visits I happened to be working – so as you can probably imagine I was extremely excited to be going as a guest.

Aside from being a great excuse to get all dressed up in a new dress (more on that later), it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet new bloggers and catch up with some familiar faces. As fun as it is chatting away on Twitter and liking photos on Instagram, it’s not quite the same as having those conversations in person.

The lovely Carrie and Laura from Branded3 led us through to the Festival Restaurant, aka our base for the day. We had a warm and friendly welcome from all of the staff and were offered coffee and cookies on arrival – a perfect start to the day!

After a much needed caffeine kick, we ventured out to explore and place some bets – of course! We had a personal Tote betting service for our table which I did use for a later race, but blue skies and sunshine were calling my name…

A few Cheltenham Festival facts… if you’re unfamiliar
  • One of the biggest meetings in the National Hunt calendar, the Festival takes place at the Cheltenham Racecourse – this year from 14th – 17th March.
  • A selection of the very best British and Irish trained horses, trainers and jockeys attend at this annual event
  • The event spans over four days – Tuesday ‘Champion Day‘, Wednesday ‘Ladies Day’, Thursday ‘St Patrick’s‘ and Friday ‘Gold Cup
  • There are 7 races each day – 28 races in total – with over £4.1 million in prize money!

I’m not usually a betting kind of girl but when you’re physically there and a part of the excitement, I found myself enjoying the moment and embraced the opportunity to place a few bets. I enlisted the help of my cousin who is a regular at the Cheltenham Festival, and he kindly shared a few of his tips with me – Neon Wolf, Peregrine Run, Dolos and Cause Toujours. Unfortunately none of them came through for me, but it’s the taking part that counts… right?

The atmosphere inside the restaurant was intense and exciting during each race, as we watched the action on the big screen. Watch the video above for a snippet of the action.

Our food began to be dished out as the first race started, but we were all too engrossed to take our eyes off the screen! I’ve never really understood all the excitement over horse-racing, but when you are physically there it’s captivating. You haven’t got to be an expert to enjoy the experience, but you do walk away with a little more knowledge about the sport.

In typical blogger fashion, we all got snap happy taking photos of our food before tucking in to these perfectly presented dishes.

Trealy Farm Monmouthshire spiced air dried beef, shaved parmesan, cauliflower cream, chicory salad and truffle oil
Dish of the Day: Breast of Gressingham duck, silky sweet potato, crab apple and duck confit duck leg pie, braised red cabbage, fine beans and passionfruit and Glenfarcias single malt whisky

The main course was incredible! The whisky was a subtle but delicious addition to the dish, and complimented the duck perfectly.

During our meal, the restaurant manager came over and surprised us with a complimentary bottle of champagne for looking so fabulous! The hospitality team really did go above and beyond for us during the day and made the experience even more enjoyable.

Oh hey, big spender! 
Zesty lemon and praline tranche, Cornish clotted cream and raspberry coulis

As I’ve given up chocolate for lent (although I cheated slightly and caved in to a Wispa bar at work – I KNOW, don’t judge me), I opted for the lemon cheesecake dish which was a refreshing change. However, I did look on with envy at the others who had chosen the dark chocolate option…

I left a third of my dessert on the plate as I knew I had to find room somewhere for the Cheltenham Cheese Board.

Martell Double Gloucester, Exeter Quicke’s cheddar, Simon Weaver organic Cotswold brie and Cropwell Bishop Stilton with apricots, nuts, grapes, chutney, butter and cheese biscuits – YUM!

Photo: Cassie Maie

Instead of sitting around in cheese coma’s, a few of the ladies and I decided to walk it off and take some photos in the glorious sunshine.

I still can’t quite believe how lucky we were to be wearing these beautiful dresses in March, in what felt like proper summer weather. It’s rare to experience these kind of days during actual summertime so I took full advantage whilst it lasted – you never know when we’ll get another chance like this during Spring!

With Kaz, Amy and Cassie

This kind of experience would usually be out of my budget, as the ticket Ladbrokes kindly provided us was worth £370! I never take for granted these incredible opportunities I get through blogging, and this has to be up there with one of the best experiences I’ve ever been offered.

Dress: Warehouse
Shoes: New Look (similar)

Keeping things real with a button undone and my necklace turned the wrong way…

I am totally obsessed with this floral number from Warehouse. You know when you try on a dress and it just fits you like a glove – that. I was unsure how dressy to go, as I am fully aware some women go ALL out for Ladies Day and I feared being too under dressed. I have a wedding next month and wanted to choose something that I could wear for more than one occasion, and this midi dress is perfect for spring/summer events and days out. I must have chosen well, as I was handed a special W.O. Lewis Badge by one of the #ColourMeMarchWOW spotters, which put me in for a chance of winning one of their incredible prizes (I had my eye on the Mini!)

My tip for dressing for the occasion? Don’t stress about it too much. It really doesn’t matter if you wear a hat or not. Be comfortable and feel your best. Try not to dwell on ‘fitting in’ too much – there is no official dress code.

The Festival Package allows you to be wined and dined with a great view of the parade ring, as well as access to the bathroom that only those in the hospitality suites can use (no queuing for the toilet!) Of course you have the freedom to venture outside and watch all the action from the stands, but it’s a great feeling when your feet start to hurt from wearing heels and you know you can stumble back up to the restaurant and rest for as long as you want – without missing any of the action!

Time for Tea!

Myself and the girls rushed back up to the restaurant as we were expecting Afternoon Tea to arrive at any moment. Despite being full from our A La Carte lunch, I still found room (somewhere!) for a couple of sandwiches and cakes – and a much needed cuppa!

Time to head back out for the final race…

Whether you live in the Cotswolds or visit from further afield, a trip to the Cheltenham Festival is well worth the money! You can’t put a price on experiences like this and it’s worth planning your trip in advance as tickets and accommodation get snapped up pretty quick. Whether you opt for Festival, Club or the general tickets, you’ll have a great day regardless – why not make a day of it and invite your nearest and dearest!

I want to say a big thank you to Ladbrokes and the Branded3 team for the invite and making the day so special.

Ladies, I’ll see you there next year…

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