SOUL OF SPORT: ANDY HOOPER captures the build-up to Cheltenham

SOUL OF SPORT: 260,000 people are expected to attend Cheltenham Festival this week with the iconic event set to bring excitement, anguish and ecstasy to millions more – ANDY HOOPER captures all the build-up and behind-the-scenes stories in pictures

  • Every week on a Monday, our Soul of Sport series will take readers behind the scenes at top sporting events 
  • Andy Hooper travelled to the iconic Cheltenham Racecourse ahead of this year’s Festival starting on Tuesday 
  • His photographs capture all facets of its build-up and help to tell the untold stories of the four-day event

Welcome back to the Soul of Sport. For our third episode of the series, ANDY HOOPER travelled to Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire ahead of the iconic Cheltenham Festival taking place this week.

Over the four-day event, an estimated 260,000 people will come to witness the best horses, jockeys and trainers battling it out across 28 races. The excitement, anguish and elation will be felt by millions more watching from afar in what is no doubt one of the greatest weeks in the British sporting calendar. Ahead of this year’s Festival kicking off on Tuesday, our man captured all the work that goes into preparing the venue, using a Nikon Z9 Camera, and 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses.

The calm before the storm at Cheltenham Racecourse – a view of the finish line from the Royal Box in the Princess Royal stand 

Groundsmen at Cheltenham Racecourse prepare the hurdles ahead of the Festival’s action beginning on Tuesday afternoon

A shot of the historic Cheltenham steam railway which helps to transport race goers to the racecourse during the event

Neil Carr (pictured), is the driver of the steam train that provides racegoers with a unique experience when they arrive

The parade ring at the Festival being readied ahead of Tuesday’s first meeting, with 28 races taking place across the four days

A shot of the Gold Cup – the most prestigious national hunt race of the year – which has a highly-competitive line-up this year

The main stand at Cheltenham – pictured above empty – which will be packed to the rafters throughout the Festival

The Guinness tent area being readied, with punters expected to guzzle a significant amount of pints during the four-day event

A behind-the-scenes snap of Rachael Blackmore’s peg in the weigh-in room, signed after she won last year’s Gold Cup 

A shot of the racecourse at dawn on Sunday as horses and jockeys begin to make their way out for an early morning gallop 

Festival favourite Honeysuckle – who has won back-to-back Champion Hurdle events – eating grass on Sunday morning

A string of horses belonging to renowned trainer Gordon Elliott making their way out to the early morning gallops on Sunday

A lone horse and jockey out on course early on Sunday morning with the Cheltenham stands in the background behind

Another string of horses trained by Gordon Elliott continue their preparation on the early morning gallops on Sunday morning

Clerk of the course Jon Pullin with his modern stick used for measuring the ‘going’ (left hand) and his old fashion stick (right)

Willie Mullins-trained Honeysuckle also out on the early morning gallops with the horse to be retired after this year’s Festival 

A shot of more Gordon Elliott-trained horses being put through their paces at Cheltenham Racecourse at dawn on Sunday  

Man State – another Willie Mullins-trained horse – using the sandbath before training on the gallops on Sunday morning

Legenary British jump trainer Nicky Henderson walks the course on the Sunday before Cheltenham to check the ground

A shot of the platform at Cheltenham Racecourse with an estimated 260,000 people set to attend the event over four days

Racegoers can arrive directly at the racecourse after a scenic journey through the Cotswolds, Malverns and Vale of Evesham

A long-distance shot of Cheltenham Racecourse with the photo taken from Cleeve Hill and showing the course and stands

A scenic photo of Cheltenham Racecourse at dawn on Sunday morning as the sun rises in the build-up to the Festival 

If you are interested in purchasing any of Andy Hooper’s pictures, please email [email protected]

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