Back to the fu­ture

Af­ter a bril­liant 2016-17 jumps sea­son, Chel­tenham looks for­ward to new chal­lenges by cel­e­brat­ing the be­hind-the-scenes stars


French En­light­en­ment writer, his­to­rian, and philoso­pher Voltaire saw the im­por­tance in rec­og­niz­ing achieve­ment. He wrote, “ap­pre­ci­a­tion is a won­der­ful thing: It makes what is ex­cel­lent in oth­ers be­long to us as well.”

Re­flect­ing on what is good, pro­pels us for­ward, whether it is in the ed­u­ca­tional or busi­ness set­ting. At Chel­tenham, af­ter a thrilling 2016/2017 sea­son of top class jump rac­ing, there is ex­cite­ment in the air as the eques­trian world looks for­ward to its next new chap­ter. But be­fore it does, later this month The Mccoys, a brand new Os­car-equiv­a­lent set of awards will rec­og­nize all those who have made an out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the sport in the sea­son just gone. It puts a sat­is­fac­tory full stop to 2016/17 and marks the past 12 months in style. Horses, sta­ble staff, train­ers and own­ers across all four of the Jockey Club’s South West race­courses at Chel­tenham, Win­can­ton, Exeter and War­wick, will be ac­knowl­edged and cel­e­brated alike. The awards – 17 of them in all – are named the “Mccoys” af­ter Sir A.P.MCCOY, the record­ing-break­ing 20-time Cham­pion Jump Jockey who re­tired from race rid­ing in April, 2015. Re­cip­i­ents will be pre­sented a minia­ture replica of the full-size Mccoy statue which was un­veiled at the Fes­ti­val in March. The cer­e­mony takes place on Fri­day, Septem­ber 29 in The Cen­taur, at a three-course cel­e­bra­tion din­ner with Cham­pagne re­cep­tion.

“It’s a great way to look back at the sea­son just gone and cel­e­brate the in­di­vid­u­als who help make jump rac­ing the thrilling ex­cit­ing sport it is,” says Sarah-jane Muirie, Re­gional Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ager. “It is the first time these awards have been held and we are all look­ing for­ward to it. It is also a fan­tas­tic way to mo­ti­vate us all into the new sea­son ahead.”

This of course kicks off on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 27 and Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 28 with The Show­case as the lead­ing horses, jock­eys and train­ers re­turn to their spir­i­tual home for seven races each day. Lo­cal food and drink pro­duc­ers will also be show­cas­ing their wares for race­go­ers to sam­ple and pur­chase in the Food Zone at The Cen­taur. Un­der 18’s can get in for free – apart from Fes­ti­val days - which gives younger race­go­ers a change to en­joy the ac­tion. One of the sea­son’s most pop­u­lar days is Coun­try­side Day on Novem­ber 17 which marks the be­gin­ning of the three-day Novem­ber Meet­ing and fea­tures six ex­cit­ing races. A tra­di­tion dat­ing back over 20 years, this unique coun­try fair at­mos­phere helps raise money for the Coun­try­side Al­liance and In­jured Jock­eys Fund. As well as a si­lent auc­tion, pre-rac­ing ac­tiv­i­ties take place in the pad­dock to help raise aware­ness for these im­por­tant causes.

The high­light of the first half of the Jump rac­ing sea­son and the big­gest race day out­side of The Fes­ti­val is the Betvic­tor Gold Cup Day, which fea­tures seven top qual­ity races on Satur­day, Novem­ber 18.

Over the three days £750,000 is avail­able in prize money over the 19 races which makes the meet­ing the third largest Jump fix­ture in the UK be­hind The Fes­ti­val in March and The Ran­dox Health Grand Na­tional at Ain­tree in April.

The Novem­ber Meet­ing Sun­day con­cludes the week­end and is the only Sun­day where rac­ing takes place at Chel­tenham.

“This is the ideal op­por­tu­nity to bring the whole fam­ily and there is free kids’ en­ter­tain­ment for ev­ery­one to en­joy as well as six races to ex­pe­ri­ence,”

says Alice Lin­ley, Re­gional Mar­ket­ing Ex­ec­u­tive for the Jockey Club.

“Our spe­cial guest will be Peter Rab­bit, whose cre­ator has very strong Glouces­ter­shire con­nec­tions. Beatrix Pot­ter cre­ated one of her most loved char­ac­ters, The Tailor of Glouces­ter in the city. The build­ing where her charm­ing shop and mu­seum is next to the cathe­dral, fea­tures in her il­lus­tra­tions. It is fit­ting that we should have Peter Rab­bit here. He is an iconic char­ac­ter loved by past and cur­rent gen­er­a­tions of chil­dren.”

Peter Rab­bit will be in the Fam­ily Fun Zone sit­u­ated in the tented vil­lage, where Show­time Shane will also per­form live magic on the hour. As well as nu­mer­ous an­i­mals on show; bal­loon artists, in­door in­flat­a­bles and rosette mak­ing will be on the cards and there is an op­por­tu­nity to plait a horse’s mane or dress up as a jockey. Alice and her col­leagues will also be look­ing to re­cruit more young rid­ers to the free Ju­nior Jumpers scheme which is a fan­tas­tic ini­tia­tive to help younger race­go­ers feel part of the jump rac­ing scene.

Novem­ber is a key month for cel­e­brat­ing one of Chel­tenham’s suc­cess­ful land­marks of re­cent years – the Princess Royal Stand which will be in its third sea­son of use. The pur­pose-built five and a half storey grand­stand, opened by the Princess Royal in Novem­ber 2915, marked the fi­nal part of a £45 mil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment of the course.

David Mackin­non, Re­gional Head of Op­er­a­tions who over­saw the project, ad­mits it has been a huge suc­cess in ev­ery way.

“The cross way and the cres­cent walk round the pa­rade ring frames the lo­cal amp­ithe­atre. It is in­cred­i­ble. It has been unan­i­mously well re­ceived from the high-end Chel­tenham Club users and other race go­ers. Would we change any­thing two years later? The an­swer is no.”

The grand­stand, which in­cludes pri­vate boxes, restau­rants and view­ing fa­cil­i­ties for race­go­ers, also pro­vides a num­ber of bars in­clud­ing a pub­lic bar, the Vestey Bar af­ter Lord Vestey, who was Chair­man for Chel­tenham for 21 years un­til 2011.

When The Novem­ber Meet­ing ar­rives, race­go­ers know the sea­son is in full swing and all eyes will be on the horses, jock­eys, train­ers and own­ers who will be in the run­ning for the next set of Mccoy awards.

AP Mccoy un­veils a statue of him­self dur­ing Cham­pion Day of the 2017 Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val at Chel­tenham Race­course

The pa­rade ring dur­ing Ladies’ Day of the 2017 Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val at Chel­tenham Race­course

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