Schedule switch while chiefs also end horses running twice
CHELTENHAM Racecourse have made some alterations to the running order on the first and last days of The Festival next month.
They have also removed of the option for any horse to be declared to run twice during the four-day event, staged from Tuesday, March 12 to Friday, March 15.
On Champion Day (Tuesday, March 12), the sixth and seventh races will swap round, with the £70,000 Listed Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase becoming the sixth race on the card (4.50pm) and the £125,000 G2 National Hunt Chase now the seventh and final contest at 5.30pm.
As the National Hunt Chase for novice chasers is restricted to amateur riders, this switch means that professional jockeys will be able to conclude their day one race earlier.
Similarly, on Gold Cup Day (Friday, March 15), the £110,000 G3 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase becomes the sixth race at 4.50pm, with the £70,000 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle the seventh and final race at 5.30pm.
Thus, races open to senior professional jockeys will be concluded with the sixth race, which will help in the operation of the Weighing Room and the presentation of the Leading Jockey Award.
St Patrick’s Thursday (March 14) already concludes with the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase for amateur riders, so the alternations mean that three of the four days of The Festival now finish with a race for either amateur or conditional jockeys.
From the 2019 Festival onwards, connections will not be able to declare a
horse to run in any racel if the same horse has already been declared for another race or has already competed over the four days.
This development is an extension of the change introduced in 2016, which prevented horses from being declared to run in any of the 10 Festival handicaps if they had already been declared for another Festival handicap yet to take place.
With all races at The Festival having 48-hour declaration stages, the chance
of horses appearing twice became very slim and the change definitively rules out the possibility of horses running twice over the four days.
Racecourse chiefs believe this change will provide greater certainty as to the horses running in all of the 28 Festival races for racegoers, media, the offcourse betting market and the international audience, and that the move is also appropriate given its commitment to the highest standards of equine welfare.