Cheltenham Dates May Be Announced Wednesday

Officials at Cheltenham Racecourse hope to announce on Wednesday the new dates for its festival cancelled because of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in England. The well-known three day Cheltenham Festival was originally to be held March 13-15.

On Tuesday, 13 new cases of foot and mouth were announced, bringing the total to 195 in Britain, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The following statement was issued by Cheltenham Racecourse on March 13, the day the festival was to have begun:
"Discussions have been continuing all day about new dates for the three days of Cheltenham in either of the last two weeks of April and progress continues to be made. The process is taking account of the evaluation of a suspected foot and mouth outbreak in Northern Ireland, which may impact on Punchestown's plans to run between April 24-26.

"A continuing concern is the growing number of cases in Gloucestershire, now standing at three, the nearest of which is within 20 miles of the course."

Edward Gillespie, managing director of Cheltenham Racecourse, commented: "Taking account of all these factors, we are conscious of the need to announce new dates as soon as possible and we will be assessing the situation on Wednesday morning."

Cheltenham would like to race between April 24 to 26 but will not clash with Punchestown so the week before is looking increasingly likely. This is because Punchestown is not willing to postpone or cancel its meeting for the moment.