Cheltenham Festival: Jockey Club confirms event will remain at four days beyond 2023 after extensive review – Sky Sports

After an extensive review, the Jockey Club has confirmed the Cheltenham Festival in March will remain as a four-day event beyond 2023; Jockey Club’s Ian Renton: “while we explored the financial benefits and an opportunity to reach new audiences, we also found a number of counterpoints”
Monday 17 October 2022 12:58, UK
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A fifth day will not be added to the Cheltenham Festival beyond 2023, the Jockey Club has confirmed.
The four-day event in March, the showpiece meeting of the jumps season, had been the centre of huge speculation amid an extensive review into the prospect of adding an extra day of racing on the Saturday.
Despite many leading figures expecting a fifth day to be added, the Jockey Club confirmed on Monday the meeting will remain in its current format.
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“At the Jockey Club we care deeply about the long-term future of our sport and its role in society. That’s a mission that enables us to think differently when making decisions,” said Ian Renton, who runs Cheltenham as managing director of the Jockey Club’s west region.
“While we explored the financial benefits and an opportunity to reach new audiences, we also found a number of counterpoints to this. For example, it is clear that it would be challenging from a turf management perspective, without further work on the track, and on balance we still feel 28 races over four days is the right format.
“This research allows us to do much more than simply answer the question of whether extending the Festival is the right thing to do.
“We will now evaluate all the insight with a view to improving our facilities, investing in new on-course activations and giving our fanbase, participants, owners and other stakeholders the best possible experience at Cheltenham Racecourse.
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“We are extremely grateful to everyone who has taken part in this process and have welcomed the opportunity to listen to racehorse owners, participants, Jockey Club colleagues, the local community, our partners, loyal racing fans and many others with a passion for our sport and the Festival.”
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Racing pundit Kevin Blake has led “an outpouring of joy” at the Jockey Club’s announcement, arguing that the Festival is already too diluted with 28 races.
He told Sky Sports Racing: “It’s very unexpected. The way this had been positioned it seemed inevitable, despite consistent views from the racing public that we didn’t want it.
“The commercial case for increasing to five was clear and it seemed like they might win out.
“There’s been an outpouring of joy and relief and I’m certainly in that camp.
“It might seem perverse that something we love we don’t want more of, but not only do we not need two more races, we probably need six, seven or eight races less if this is going to be a real National Hunt championship. It’s too diluted as it is.
“It shouldn’t muddy the waters that National Hunt racing isn’t in a great spot with longstanding issues with the programme book and the polarisation of big owners and trainers.”
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