Cheltenham Racecourse will be marking the centenary of the Armistice with a moving tribute to both horse and soldier on November 18.
The November Meeting Sunday is the only Sunday in the racecourse’s racing calendar and thanks to Gloucestershire & Racing Remember, it will have extra special meaning this year.
The Lieutenancy of Gloucestershire and the racecourse are combining their energies to offer a fitting day of remembrance. As well as quality racing, spectators will see exciting action in the skies above as WW1 aircraft carry out a demonstration of aerial combat.
Accompanied by a military band, a party of Glosters in First World War uniforms will parade from the Racecourse Station up the racecourse while a mounted contingent of the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars will lead an act of remembrance in the parade ring.
“I feel very excited about the whole event. I am extremely grateful to the racecourse for allowing us to do it and our two sponsors, St James’s Place and Spirax Sarco to enable it to take place,” said Lord de Mauley, TD from Gloucestershire & Racing Remember.
“It helps us all remember the tremendous contribution that the men, the horses and the racecourse played during the First World War. It will be a very moving occasion and a fitting tribute. I am looking forward to seeing all the faces as the aerial combat display takes place. There will some very moving moments.”
With racing suspended during war years, the racecourse was used as a Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital where volunteer nurses helped over 3,000 men gassed and wounded in the conflict, to slowly rebuild their lives.
Thousands of horses were gathered up from the county. They were essential for artillery, transport, and supply and skillfully managed by many Gloucestershire people from aristocrats to Romany gypsies. The world of racing also made a huge contribution, with many of the jockeys, trainers, lads and racecourse staff involved in the war efforts.
Racecourse gates will open early to allow race goers to see the Glosters arrive by train at 11am. Vehicles and equipment from the battlefield and home front will be on display and organisations involved in telling the story of the conflict through the centenary will be exhibiting their work in the Centaur. Displays will include the history of casualty management, medals, uniforms and equipment, Gloucestershire’s war poets, the contribution of racing to the war effort, the birth of the RAF, photographs of munitions and aircraft factories.
Cheltenham Racecourse is inviting the public to dress in the manner of 1918 on the day to add to the atmosphere of the occasion.
The Famous Family Fun area will also entertain younger racegoers. Star of the show is Peppa Pig but Showtime Shane will also perform and there is opportunity to take part in Sam’s Funky Fun horse hopper races, make a rosette and watch the talented Twistopher and Twistina create amazing balloon models. All the entertainment is free and located in the Tented Village. Free membership to join Junior Jumpers is available on the day. Under 18s entry is free of charge, when attending with a full paying adult.
Aerial combat display The Glosters
LEFT: The racecourse was used as a Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital where volunteer nurses helped over 3,000 men gassed and wounded in the conflict