Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
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CHELTENHAM is set to make history by hosting a race day devoted exclusively to fillies and mares on the second day of The April Meeting on Thursday April 19.
The Gloucester track will stage a seven-race programme offering £190,000 in prize money to become the first ever jump racecourse to host a card restricted to fillies and mares.
The richest races are the £40,000 Listed European Breeders Fund/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Chase Finale and the £40,000 Kingston Stud Supporting The IJF 4-Y-O Fillies’ Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
The unique card also includes two Listed contests, the £25,000 Centaur Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and £25,000 Catesby Property Group Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.
Simon Claisse, regional head of racing, south west and Cheltenham’s clerk of the course, said: “I am delighted that Cheltenham is to be the first jump racecourse to stage an all-mares’ racecard.
“The running order on the second day of The April Meeting previously had four all-mares races on it and we very much hope that the seven races will be well-supported.
“With two mares-only races at The Festival and this card following four weeks later the mares’ programme is developing and, hopefully, owners be encouraged to run mares at the home of jump racing, especially late in the season.
“My thanks go to British Horseracing Authority (BHA) for their help in bringing this concept together – we are very much looking forward to hosting the mares’ card in April.”
Stuart Middleton, Racing Operations Manager at the BHA, added: “We have been working for some time towards jump racing’s first all-mares’ card.
“Cheltenham has long since held the same ambition and, having between us, expanded their card to include four mares’ races already, it is the obvious venue to give this exciting venture a try.
“This initiative forms yet another part of our ongoing commitment to bolstering the overall mares’ programme and providing an incentive to own and train jump mares.
“We hope that the fixture will garner positive publicity and the promise of being part of a unique event at such an iconic venue will, we hope, be yet another reason to be excited about ownership of mares at all tiers of the sport.”
The April Meeting gets underway on Wednesday, April 18, when the highlight is the £60,000 Grade 2 Matt Hampson Foundation & NSIF Silver Trophy Chase.
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