Cheltenham Racecourse bosses have invested in new technology in an attempt to end problems with mobile phones at the National Hunt Festival.
Racegoers have complained that trying to use their phones for calls, email and the internet during the four-day fixture next month can be impossible because of the lack of a signal.
Racecourse chief Ian Renton has announced that more masts have now been put up around Prestbury Park ahead of the Festival, which starts on Tuesday, March 11 and will attract crowds of 230,000 over the four days.
“As everyone is aware, over the last few years we have had an increasing number of issues with racegoers not being able to use mobile phones or Wi-Fi,” he said. “We’re trying to improve that this year, and we’ve got an extensive number of telephone masts and the actual technology within those masts to increase the mobile signal. They’re a much-higher capacity mobile mast than the previous ones. It will hugely increase 2G, 3G and 4G. In addition, we’re installing a Wi-Fi infrastructure.
“It’s very much a pilot scheme for this year’s Festival but certainly hope it’s going to improve communications for racegoers.”
Renton said work on building the new £45 million development at the racecourse would start straight after the Festival.
The development is needed to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of racegoers who cram into Prestbury Park for meetings, especially the Gold Cup Festival in March.
Renton said: “At the moment we’ve got the Arkle Stand, which is a temporary structure and replaced the boxes that were knocked down prior to the start of the season, so that is a new feature for this year’s Festival. Immediately following this year’s Festival we’re going to start a complete demolition of the remaining buildings in that area to create fantastic new grandstand which will be in place for 2016 and some of the facilities available for the 2015 Festival.”