CHRIS HUGHES has pretty much seen and done it all at Cheltenham.
The former Love Island man jumped into an ice bath, set up a surprise proposal on live TV… and even pulled a sickie from school aged 12 just so he could go.
This week he has returned as part of the star-studded ITV Racing line-up.
Hughes, 29, says there’s no way in hell he’d miss his No 1 sporting event.
But for so many people it’s about more than just seeing the top horses in action.
There is the social aspect and, for Hughes and co-host Oli Bell, a very memorable (and cold) experience in front of the cameras last year.
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With no winners in the ITV tipping competition, they fulfilled their promise to hop into the freezing water.
And there was the live on-air proposal Chris co-ordinated at a meeting later in the year.
It all adds to the legend of Cheltenham – something Coral ambassador Chris says he’ll never miss.
He told Sun Racing: “You wake up, have a full English and a pint of Guinness with your mates. It’s a full day and you can never do it just once.
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“I will be there for the rest of my life. I won’t miss one until I’m gone.
“It offers so much, the racing, the food, the betting, the shopping and the drinking.
“The ice bath weas so cold it’s actually a memory I have tried to erase…
“But we want to bring an element of how much joy the day brings rather than just showcase the racing.
“I did a wedding proposal as well. We had it all set up and I grabbed the bloke and chatted to him like it was a normal interview.
“I asked him what his girlfriend thought about the race.
“I said, ‘that was my question to you’ and then turned to her and said, ‘I think someone has a question for you’.
“Then he went down on one knee. It was by the betting ring with all the rowdy punters cheering him on.”
Chris has the friendly appeal that makes him a hit with punters and TV audiences.
But he’s also very knowledgeable about his racing.
He is co-owner of Annie Mc, a mare who’s won seven races and more than £100,000 in money.
Then again, growing up 15 minutes from the course and with a host of top jockeys as mates, how could he not be?
His love for racing is one he hopes he can pass onto new punters watching for the first time.
He said: “I went to the Festival when I was 12, I took a sickie off school and it was class.
“Being there then took my love of it to a whole new level – and that goes for all the punters too.”
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