Cheltenham Close To Naming Which Race Makes Way For Mares' Chase

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Cheltenham

Cheltenham officials have stated that it could be as early as this month that they announce the race that will be taken away from the festival roster and replaced with the Mares' Chase.

The plan to introduce the 2m4f Grade Two event over fences was announced in August 2019 and it will replace an existing race, with bookmakers taking bets on what race will be excluded.

The most popular races look to be either the Martin Pipe Conditional Handicap Hurdle, Kim Muir, Fred Winter or the 2m41/2f novices handicap hurdle.

(Credit Racing Post) Regional director of The Jockey Club, Ian Renton said:"We're getting close and should be able to announce the decision this month.

"We've discussed the move with most interested parties, including British and Irish trainers, and the decision will be based on that, as well as various statistics such as the quality each race attracts.

"We've always taken the view that there was no huge urgency and originally planned to make a decision around this time. We've done a fair amount of consultation this summer but would probably have consulted earlier and in person had there not been a pandemic."

The Cheltenham festival last season was one of the last meetings to have live racegoers attending before the country was locked down and it saw some sensational races that will be talked about for years to come.

The Jockey Club are hoping that adding the Mares Chase' to the festival can do the same with there a massive market for this type of race across the four day meeting.

Since the announcement in 2019, there has been widespread speculation about which race will be cut and some opinions to actually not cutting any race and just adding the new race alongside the other contests.

"Introducing a mares' race was never going to be popular with everybody but I think all the professionals understand the requirement for it and the way it benefits the industry," added Renton.

"It was encouraging that there was no massive united response saying we had an awful race we needed to get rid of. Nobody really wants to lose any race at the festival, which is far better than there being half a dozen they'd all like to see the back of.

"To have a large proportion of the horse population not having the opportunity to race at the highest level can't be right and contrasts massively with Flat racing. We've always been supportive of the BHA wanting to introduce a mares' chase but the timing had to be right.

"We wanted to be aligned with the broader improvement in the mares' chasing population rather than bring something in and have to wait two or three years for the quality of the race to improve."

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