Racing People: “The Cheltenham Festival is all I’ve ever known. It means the world to me”

As a child, the thought of going to school during the Cheltenham Festival is a daunting one. However, it was a challenge that Cathryn Fry managed to evade during her adolescence, thanks to her understanding parents.

Because of this, Fry was able to enjoy the celebrations of Dawn Run’s Gold Cup victory in 1986 as a 10-year-old.

That moment was the catalyst for her love affair with horseracing and the Cheltenham Festival.

She said: “My parents were members at Cheltenham, so we never missed a meeting. I think I went to my first Cheltenham Festival before I could walk!

“They gave up trying to make me go to school during Festival week, so they thankfully would allow me to take the week off.

“The Festival is all I’ve ever known. It means the world to me for so many reasons.

“Desert Orchid winning the Gold Cup in 1989 was my favourite Festival moment. Dessie was my hero and everything was against him the day when he won. But, the race that kick-started my love for racing was Dawn Run’s Gold Cup win in 1986.

“It was on my 10th Birthday and it was such a special day. The roar from the crowd when she started to close on Wayward Lad will live with me forever. It was magical.

“You can’t beat The Festival. It just optimises everything that is great about our sport.”

Fry, 37, aspires to become a novelist, but currently works as a broadcaster for her local news station.

She says combining her passion with work puts her in a very fortunate position.

She said: “I’m a racing correspondent to a local radio station and I am really enjoying it.

“To be able to combine your passion with your job is incredible and I am very lucky indeed to be in this position.

“In terms of my future, I want to write a book. Looking further ahead I would really like to become a broadcaster on either Racing UK / At The Races / 5Live, if I can.”

By James Yellen. M: 07889 085535. E:


James Yellen is a 22-year-old freelance racing journalist from Newbury, Berkshire.

He is currently in his third year at university studying for a degree in Sports Journalism and will be graduating in July this year.

James has previously written copy for the Racing Post and Press Association, as well as writing numerous articles for Eclipse Magazine.

He tips Champion Court in the Ryanair Chase at 10–1 as his nap bet for the Cheltenham Festival. Follow him on Twitter @JamesYellen. 

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