The week before last my sleeping hours were just about night owl-like enough that I managed to stay up to watch the Tyson Fury vs Wilder fight, beamed live from Vegas. Predictions beforehand were very much up in the air, would Fury’s rope a dope style see him through, would Wilder land one of his ‘lights out’ punches that he’s notorious for? As it turned out Fury continued confounding critics by being the one with the dominant display and power. But I got to thinking, why should it always be people squaring up to each each. Who would win a fight and what would the tale of the tape be between the Grand National and the Cheltenham Festival. Well what we we waiting for.. Let’s get ready to rumble!
The Cheltenham Festival certainly has a lot going for it. Four days of quality racing action, with 28 races in total, are nothing short of a gift to those who like a bet or two (or three!). The on-course atmosphere is second to none, with the trademark Cheltenham Roar being let out by the crowd at the start of the first race. With such prestigious races such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Arkle Challenge Trophy and Champion Hurdle the action is relentless. Many horses have made their name at the Festival, such as Golden Miller (who won the Gold Cup three times in the 30s) as well as Arkle and Best Mate who matched it decades later. Prize money is substantial; a £625,000 purse for the Gold Cup in 2019 for instance, and TV viewing figures are impressive considering the spread of races over days. In 2018 11 races drew in more than a million viewers.
The Grand National speaks for itself. Held in Aintree, Liverpool each year bar one since 1839, it’s a legend maker of a race. It’s one race that creates ‘water cooler’ moments by getting everyone talking and involved, whether via placing a bet online, following tips for the Grand National or having a friendly wager with mates. The most successful horse ever in the Grand National is likely also the exact same answer you’d most frequently get if you randomly asked strangers to name a horse. It’s none other than three time Grand National winner Red Rum. While Tiger Roll may do his best to steal his crowd this year, Red Rum has certainly done more than enough to secure his place in the racing history books.
Domestic viewing figures for the Grande National have been known to touch an impressive ten million, and a worldwide audience of between 500 and 600 million. Even outside of racing not many sporting audiences can rival that, which must tell you something.
So who has wins this tussle between these two highlights of the racing year? Well Cheltenham was on the ropes there for a minute due to the astounding Grand National viewing figures, but this has to be weighed up against the four day feast of racing that the festival offers. I hate to be a bore but it’s a close run thing, and as such much like the first Fury vs Wilder fight, I’m going to have to declare this one a DRAW! Depending on how each pan out in 2020, we may be due a rematch in the near future!