Carol Vorderman: Richard Whiteley and I were party animals at Cheltenham Festival, it's the most fun we had

THE ultimate party animals, loads of laughs and a few winners too – it's no wonder Carol Vorderman can't help but smile at her memories of Cheltenham Festival.

This year will be no different, when punters including Vorders flock back to the track for the first time since 2020.


But even now there is one person above all others she will be thinking of when she turns up in typical style this week.

Vorderman, 61, and former Countdown co-host Richard Whiteley loved nothing more than a day at the races.

Whiters, as Vorderman calls him, owned one horse you might remember – Mare Of Wetwang.

That cheeky name was typical of Whiteley, says Vorderman, who insists her old mate, who passed away in 2005, was 'the biggest party animal ever'.

And it was at the Festival that this legendary TV duo shared their most fun.

Vorderman told Sun Racing: "I love Cheltenham, it's my absolute favourite.

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"Whiters and I were always there. We used to go racing all the time, and let me tell you, Whiters was the biggest party animal you have ever come across.

"Mind you, I wasn't far behind him!

"But I first went to Cheltenham with Whiters. His best mate was trainer James Bethell and wife Sally, lovely people, and we would all go together.

"Whiters and I always ended up in various boxes. I never knew where we were.

'THERE WAS A LOT OF MISCHIEF'

"And in those days you could stay at the course right up until midnight, especially if you were with the Irish.

"We would just walk down the corridor and people would haul us in, we thought it was hilarious.

"I have such happy memories and there was a lot of mischief.

"The atmosphere is very free. Even now, the staff working there, who are so lovely to me and do such a great job, they say to me, 'I remember when you used to come with Richard Whiteley!'

"I've done it in all different ways – flying in in a helicopter, wearing loads of outfits, it's always been special and I have never not been on a high.

"I absolutely love it.

"Richard of course died suddenly. We were planning on getting some more horses – he wanted to get one called Mustafa Vowel.

"I do miss him, you know. I don't often talk about him but anything to do with racing it brings it back for me.

"He embedded racing in me and they were such happy days."

Vorders will be catching up with former jockey and trainer Michael Dickinson again this year.

Nicknamed the 'mad genius', Dickinson is perhaps best remembered for training the first five home in the 1983 Gold Cup.

Together, they take in the sights at the parade ring, follow the horses down to the start then wait by the final jump as they thunder past in pursuit of glory.

But it's much more than just the racing that Vorders loves.

She explained: "I always get to the racecourse early. I am one of the first through the gates.

'I LOVE BEING WITH THE PUNTERS'

"I get there at 10.30am or even earlier and try to persuade security to let me through.

"Then I go out and walk around, the people are so lovely. My day is full of people walking towards me with a big smile on their face.

"To have that is a privilege for me and I love being out among people there, having a selfie.

"The people at Cheltenham are particularly lovely, they are there for the same reason as me, to see top horses racing and get a big adrenaline shock.

"Once I'm in I have a catch up with friends then it's into the village there to do some shopping because you never know what you could find to wear the next day!

"After that it's back to the racing. I'm so looking forward to seeing people I haven't seen in so long."

Dressing up, seeing friends and having a few drinks – three things that have seemed alien these past two years.

But now Cheltenham's back and with it the greatest show on turf.

Sounds like a winner to us.


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