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McCririck backs CrossCountry as odds on favourite for Cheltenham racegoers

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The Channel 4 TV personality and avid racing guru has taken time out to teach CrossCountry employees and passengers the puzzling art of bookmaker's tic tac, following the train operator's additional services to Cheltenham for all horseracing fans travelling to this year's festival.

Joined onboard by two jovial jockeys and dressed in his iconic deerstalker outfit, John took his trackside arm-waving antics and racecourse betting slang to the CrossCountry carriages, giving train staff and passengers a humorous insight into the old style skilful art of betting communication.

Tipping CrossCountry as the Jolly (tic tac slang for a 'favourite') for Cheltenham racegoers, 'Big Mac' comments: "What better way to avoid the jams and congestion on the roads next week than to arrive in style by train into Cheltenham. You can get ahead of the game and look at the day's odds at your own leisure before you arrive and even take your trackside enthusiasm onboard, sharing your own tic tac tips with family and friends."

Aside from CrossCountry's 94 daily scheduled services stopping at Cheltenham, there will be an additional four CrossCountry services operating from Birmingham New Street and Bristol Temple Meads to help cater for the expected increase in visitors attending the four-day racing festival.

Racegoers are advised to book in advance via to buy tickets and even make use of CrossCountry's latest online e-ticket and save time by printing the ticket at home.

CrossCountry's four additional Cheltenham services from Birmingham New Street and Bristol Temple Meads between 10 -13 March are as follows:

Birmingham New Street

  • 10.10 Birmingham NS > 10.58 Cheltenham > 11.54 Bristol Temple Meads
  • 15.10 Birmingham NS > 15.56 Cheltenham > 16.50 Bristol Temple Meads

Bristol Temple Meads

  • 13.08 Bristol Temple Meads > 14.06 Cheltenham > 14.59 Birmingham NS
  • 18.09 Bristol Temple Meads > 18.51 Cheltenham > 19.41 Birmingham NS

The Festival at Cheltenham attracts the best steeplechasers and hurdlers from across Britain, Ireland and Europe to compete for a record £3.5m in prize money in the most dramatic Cotswold setting.

An overview of the 2009 Festival:

Tuesday 10 March
Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle Day

Tuesday 10 March
Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle Day

Thursday 12 March
Ladies Day and Ladbrokes World Hurdle

Friday 13 March
totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup Day

Notes to editors:

CrossCountry started operating on 11 November 2007. The franchise, which is the most extensive in the UK, will run until 31 March 2016. For further information on CrossCountry services and future franchise plans log on to

CrossCountry is part of the Arriva group which operates transport services in twelve European countries, employs more than 40,000 people and provides more than one billion passenger journeys every year. For more information about the Arriva group visit

CrossCountry facts and figures:

PASSENGERS CARRIED: Over 30 million passenger journeys a year anticipated
ANNUAL TRAIN MILEAGE: Approximately 16 million
EMPLOYEES: Approximately 1,700
LONGEST TRAIN SERVICE: (SX) 08.20 Aberdeen to Penzance (699 miles)

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