Excellent sales and soft going ahead of The Festival

Cheltenham Racecourse staged a media day on Wednesday, February 26 when the latest news about The Festival, which starts on Tuesday, March 11, was announced.

 

The going is currently soft and Simon Claisse, Regional Head of Racing, South West & Clerk of the Course, Cheltenham, sketched out the likely impact of the weather approaching The Festival which takes place on the Old Course for the first two days (March 11 & 12) and the New Course for the last two days (March 13 & 14)

 

He said: “We are very lucky with the weather today. For those of you who were here on January 1 and Festival Trials Day (January 25) will know, we had our fair share of rainfall then.

 

“Interestingly, if you compare September through to now the rainfall this season and last season has been about the same.

 

“This season it has all come in the last six or seven weeks, though we have not had a great deal of rain in the last 10 days.

 

“The track is looking in great order, particularly the ground we save from year to year, which we only use at The Festival. Six, seven, eight or nine yards, and more for the chases on Thursday and Friday is ground we have not set foot on since a year ago.

 

“People who may have had concerns about the damage that was done out there on the track in January should rest assured that is no issue, and all that ground we raced on has gone back really well.

 

“There is rain forecast. An official going description today would be soft on both chase and hurdle courses, while the Cross Country Course is soft, heavy in places.

 

“The latest forecast from John Kettley indicates we are likely to get about an inch (25 millimetres of rain) between now and Friday of next week.

 

“We are honouring the wonderful contribution Terry Biddlecombe made not only to racing but to life as whole and have named the National Hunt Chase in his honour. That will be run as race six on Champion Day, Tuesday, March 11.

 

“Last year Channel 4 broadcast Quevega’s fifth win in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle on the opening day after the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase was postponed to the Thursday and we will continue with the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle in a television slot as Quevega goes for a record sixth consecutive win at The Festival. We have moved the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase to the Wednesday.

 

“I have been asked by trainers for many years if we could have consolation races on the Saturday. We are sticking to four days of The Festival but, working with Kempton Park and the British Horseracing Authority, there will be two consolation races for horses who get balloted out of the handicaps here.

 

“Horses who are entered in the handicaps here but are balloted out will be entered by default in two £40,000 Silver Cup handicaps, one for hurdlers and the other for chasers, over around two and a half miles at Kempton Park on Saturday, March 15. It is up to the trainers to decide whether to run at the declaration stage and it is only then that they would pay an entry fee.”

 

Ian Renton, Regional Director South West of Jockey Club Racecourses, is pleased with advance sales so far. There is still availability for all four days except in the Best Mate Enclosure on Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 14.

 

He commented: “Sales are going extremely strongly and we are on the same basis of sales as last year when we had record attendances on the first three days.

 

“Hospitality sales are absolutely thriving. We aim to get over 1,000 additional hospitality clients here each day.

 

“We have the biggest three-tier temporary structure in Europe and on the top floor is the Fairlawne Restaurant which is going to be a wonderful new addition to our restaurant facilities here under the direction of Albert Roux.”

 

Cheltenham is hoping mobile phone reception will be better at The Festival.

 

Renton added: “We are trying to improve the mobile phone and wi-fi situation this year. We have more mobile phone masts and we are also installing a pilot wi-fi infrastructure which will be completed shortly.”

 

Luxury Bath, Body and Gift brand Baylis & Harding to sponsor for the first time at The Festival

 

Luxury affordable beauty brand Baylis & Harding is to sponsor the three-mile handicap chase on the opening day of The Festival. The Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase was won last year by Golden Chieftain, trained by Colin Tizzard.

 

Tania Fossey, Creative Director of Baylis & Harding commented: “Baylis & Harding is delighted to be involved with The Festival at Cheltenham for the first time.

 

“I have been passionate about horses all my life and nothing excites me more than a day at the races.  The glamour and excitement of The Festival is second to none and for me THE highlight of the racing calendar.

 

“We wish every jockey, trainer and owner taking part in the Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase the best of luck and look forward to an exciting, nail-biting finish!”

 

Lee Moulson, Regional Head of Sales for the South West Region of Jockey Club Racecourses added: “The team at Baylis & Harding have been attending The Festival as hospitality clients for many years so it is great that they are now taking their first step into race sponsorship at The Festival.

 

“I am sure they will have a really great day as well as finding it hugely rewarding for the brand.”

 

Baylis & Harding products will be included as some of the gifts on offer in the goodie bags, for those racegoers enjoying the Fashion Zone in the tented village on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The products will also be used in the hospitality areas.

 

For further information or to book tickets visit www.cheltenham.co.uk or call 0844 579 3003.

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