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NEWS: Mares' chase to be added to Cheltenham Festival
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NEWS: Mares' chase to be added to Cheltenham Festival
on 12 August 2019
The new race will be a Grade 2 contest staged at around two and a half miles - but there will still only be 28 races at the Festival

A mares’ chase will be introduced at the Cheltenham Festival in 2021.

Following on from the Grade 1 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and the Grade 2 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, which have both been well-supported by owners and trainers, the Jockey Club’s Cheltenham team and the BHA have determined introducing a top quality chase solely for mares as the correct next step in support of the mares’ programme.

The new race will be a Grade 2 contest staged at around two and a half miles. Further details will be agreed in due course.

The Festival will continue to consist of 28 races over the four days and the new mares’ chase will replace an existing race, though which one has yet to be decided.

Ian Renton explained: “The introduction of a mares’ chase at the Festival is something that we have been considering for a while in discussion with the BHA, who are keen to see further promotion of the mares’ race programme.

“Given the need to replace an existing race at the Festival in 2021 in order to stage the mares’ chase, I am sure there will be much debate as to which one this should be.”

“Given the recent improvement in the quality of mares racing, we have agreed to introduce a mares’ chase at the Festival in 2021.

“We recognise the importance for the sport of providing opportunities for mares at the very highest level and the introduction of first the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and then the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle have been well received.

“I hope that by providing time for trainers, owners and breeders to consider if they have a mare suitable this will allow for the development of top-class equine athletes for the new race.

“Given the need to replace an existing race at the Festival in 2021 in order to stage the mares’ chase, I am sure there will be much debate as to which one this should be.”

Trainer Nicky Henderson said: "I am delighted to hear of the introduction of a mares’ chase to the Festival order of running.

"The encouragement that has been given to racing jump mares has worked incredibly well and, with the two mares' hurdle races at the Festival being so popular, it is a great time to introduce a mares' chase. There are undoubtedly more and more high class mares coming through the system and going chasing, and this would obviously be further encouragement for owners and particularly owner-breeders to race their good mares over fences."

MORE ON THIS STORY IN THE IRISH FIELD NEXT WEEKEND

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