Cheltenham Festival to Coincide With Newmarket Craven Meet

From Racenews
Cheltenham Racecourse announced Wednesday that it has agreed with the British Horseracing Board new dates for the Cheltenham National Hunt Meeting. The dates are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, April 17-19.

Tickets will be valid for the same days of the week. Cheltenham will be writing to everyone who bought a ticket outlining the arrangements that include a full refund if they cannot attend.

"We at Cheltenham are only too conscious of the continuing foot and mouth crisis and the effect this is having on so many of our customers," said Cheltenham's managing director Edward Gillespie. "However, there is a balance to be struck. We are convinced that we can safely conduct a successful race meeting and that, so long as racing continues and the racecourse remains outside an infected area, then we should make every effort to hold the meeting. We have therefore set dates so that the preparation of the horses and all the arrangements for the meeting can resume."

The National Hunt Festival was scheduled to run this week, but Cheltenham was unable to comply then with BHB instructions regarding the precautions issued to allow racing to continue during the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Meanwhile, Newmarket Racecourse has adjusted its race times and will now kick off at 1.15 p.m. each day for its Craven meet that will run the same days as the rescheduled Cheltenham Festival.

Channel 4 will televise two live races from Newmarket before moving on to Cheltenham and from that point the coverage will be shared between the two meetings.

The Craven meet features the first British group races of the 2001 Flat season, with some important classic trials taking place. These include the group III Shadwell Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes, Listed Victor Chandler European Free Handicap and group III Macau Jockey Club Craven Stakes.

Lisa Hancock, managing director of Newmarket Racecourses Trust, said: "Over the last few days we had anticipated that this might happen and as such have adjusted our order of running to fit in with Cheltenham's program and to ensure that all our sponsors continue to have live television coverage.

"While it is far from ideal, these are exceptional circumstances and we hope that any effect will be minimal. Our typical Craven crowd is largely made up of Flat-racing purists and their enjoyment should remain unaffected. The double-header with Cheltenham will offer the best racing, both Flat and National Hunt, and I'm sure the course-to-course betting turnover will be excellent."