A mares’ chase will be introduced at Cheltenham Festival in 2021.
Following in the footsteps of the G1 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and the G2 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, which have both been well-supported by owners and trainers, The Jockey Club’s Cheltenham team and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) have determined introducing a top quality chase solely for mares as the correct next step in support of the mares’ programme.
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.
The new race will be a G2 contest staged at around two and a half miles so check out the latest betting offers.
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 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.”
Ruth Quinn, Director of International Racing and Racing Development at the BHA, said:
“Tangible progress has been made by the industry in recent years in developing the mares’ programme and we are undoubtedly starting to see some meaningful positive impact with an increased number of quality mares on the track.
“Today’s announcement is not only an endorsement of this overall progress, but also a meaningful step in giving those who are considering buying a mare, or thinking about racing a mare over fences, something to aspire to. The BHA has had a publicly-stated ambition to see a mares’ chase included in the programme at the Cheltenham Festival for some time. This comes with the view that such a race is highly likely to act as a significant lure in effecting behavioural change across the spectrum, and therefore have a long-term impact on enhancing the population of quality Jumping mares.”
Trainer Nicky Henderson said:
“I am delighted to hear of the introduction of a Mares’ Steeplechase 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.”