Cheltenham Festival Changes announced
A number of changes have been announced ahead of The Festival, which in 2015 runs from Tuesday, 10th March to Friday, 13th March at Cheltenham Racecourse.
These include prize money increases, race conditions, field sizes and race distances.
Ladbrokes World Hurdle & Ryanair Chase both up to £300,000
The total prize funds for the two Grade One contests on St Patrick’s Thursday, 12th March, the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase, will increase in value to £300,000. This is a boost of £25,000 for both races, which were worth £275,000 in 2014.
As previously announced, the prize money for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle has increased from £85,000 to £100,000 (as well as becoming a Grade One race) and the prize money for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase will be £60,000, an increase of £10,000.
The total prize fund for the four days of The Festival is now £3.9 million and Cheltenham Racecourse extends its thanks to both Ladbrokes and Ryanair for their continued support.
Allowance changes for 2015 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
The 3lb allowance for riders riding for their own stable and the 7lb allowance for riders who have not ridden a winner will be removed from the race conditions in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle race, from 2015.
Stuart Middleton, British Horseracing Authority (BHA) Racing Operations Manager, said: “Removing the additional 3lb allowance removes any temptation to gamble on inexperience for what is the highest profile conditional jockeys event of the year, unless trainers are comfortable that it is the right booking for the horse.
“We do not have an issue with trainers using their own riders and understand the desire to keep successful partnerships intact, but other trainers who might prefer to book the best available rider should not be discouraged from doing so, as was previously the case with these allowances.
“The same sentiments apply to the booking of riders who have not ridden a winner.”
Field sizes for novice hurdles and handicap hurdles at The Festival
Following a review with the BHA’s Senior Inspector, the maximum field sizes for the following races have been reduced to improve bypassing arrangements;
Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – 22 runners from 24 runners
Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle – 22 runners from 24 runners
Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle – 26 runners from 28 runners
Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle – 22 runners from 24 runners
JCB Triumph Hurdle – 22 runners from 24 runners
Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle – 26 runners from 28 runners
Change of race distances to improve starts
The changes made to the three-mile handicap chase starts on both the Old Course and the New Course, to improve the starts and used to date this season, will also apply at The Festival.
This will affect the following races:
The Festival Handicap Chase will be run over a distance of 3m 1f (previously 3m ½f) on the Tuesday.
The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup will be run over a distance of 3m 2f (previously 3m 1½f) on the Thursday.
The Festival Plate (reduced to 2m 4f in 2014 by the request of the BHA) will revert to 2m 5f on the Thursday.