Cheltenham savours market upturn

A STOCK market recovery may be the accepted forerunner to a wider economic upturn, but it’s a more buoyant turnover at the season’s hottest corporate entertainment events that really cements it.

Cheltenham last year was a somewhat subdued affair; while the number of filled corporate boxes held steady as companies made good on their pre-booked spending obligations, City firms held back on doling out the free champagne as the pressures of the global recession – whether real or perceived – stamped their mark on the event. Fast forward 12 months, and it’s a different story: with a spring in their step and coins jingling in their pockets, the punters stalking the racecourse grounds were positively full of the joys of spring.

Though the actual number of corporate boxes was down year on year (one row of glass-fronted suites having been axed this year), the atmosphere through the rest of the course was one of elation on the opening day.

Well over 200,000 spectators are expected to grace the course over the four-day festival, while caterers are anticipating pouring out some 20,000 bottles of champagne, 30,000 bottles of wine and 220,000 pints of Guinness. Indeed, one thing is for sure, the muted festivities of the past 18 crisis-hit months are well and truly behind us.