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Thursday, March 6, 2003



LATEST WILLIAM HILL ANTE-POST PRICES




JONJO LEADS THE WAY FOR FIRST DAY OF FESTIVAL

With the five day declarations for Tuesday's races settled Hills have opened the betting on the Pertemps Final, with another Jonjo O'Neill runner, the multiple winner Iris's Gift heading the list. In fact, now Joss Naylor has been backed from 10-1 to 8-1 favourite for the William Hill Chase, Jonjo is in charge of three of the four market leaders on Tuesday, so he could get off to a flying start for the Festival's Leading Trainer (currently he is 13-8).

Also backed today are Tiutchev in the Champion Chase (Martin Pipe is 11-8 favourite for the Leading Trainer) and Irish raider Emotional Moment for the Coral Cup.

CHELTENHAM SPECIALS
DAILY TELEGRAPH TROPHY (LEADING JOCKEY): 7-4 AP McCoy, 4-1 Ruby Walsh , 9-2 Norman Williamson, 7-1 Mick Fitzgerald, 9-1 Barry Geraghty, 11-1 Richard Johnson (from 10-1), Liam Cooper, 12-1 Jim Culloty (from 14-1), 20-1 Timmy Murphy, Paul Carberry, 33-1 Thierry Doumaen. (Others Upon Request)

LEADING TRAINER: 11-8 Martin Pipe, 13-8 Jonjo O'Neill, 4-1 Paul Nicholls, 9-1 Nicky Henderson, 20-1 Edward O'Grady (from 25-1), 25-1 Henrietta Knight, Philip Hobbs, (Others Upon Request) (Based on winners & countback over 2nd & then 3rd places in the event of a tie. If a tie still exists after 3rd places, dead-heat rules will apply)

NUMBER OF IRISH TRAINED WINNERS: 16-1 Zero Winners, 7-1 One Winner, 9-2 Two Winners, 3-1 Three Winners, 3-1 Four Winners, 9-2 Five Winners, 8-1 Six Winners, 16-1 Seven Winners, 33-1 Eight Winners, 40-1 Nine or More Winners.


CHELTENHAM TUESDAY 11th MARCH
SMURFIT CHAMPION HURDLE: 2-1 Rhinestone Cowboy, 10-3 Intersky Falcon (from 7-2), 5-1 Rooster Booster (from 6-1), 9-1 Like A Butterfly, 11-1 Flame Creek , 14-1 Hors La Loi III (from 16-1), Marble Arch, 16-1 Landing Light (from 20-1), 33-1 Copeland, In Contrast, Santenay , Scottish Memories, Westender, 50-1 Scolardy, 66-1 Bob What, 100-1 Holy Orders, Self Defence, 200-1 Iberus. Non-runner No Be (All Quoted).


IRISH INDEPENDENT ARKLE TROPHY: 6-4 Azertyuiop (from 15-8), 5-1 Adamant Approach (from 6-1), Farmer Jack (from 11-2 ), Impek (from 6-1), 8-1 Isio (from 10-1), 9-1 Le Roi Miguel (from 12-1), 10-1 Hand Inn Hand (from 12-1), 16-1 Vol Solitaire, 20-1 Stage Affair, 50-1 Ricardo. Non-runner No Bet (All Quoted).


WILLIAM HILL HANDICAP CHASE: 8-1 Joss Naylor (from 10-1), 10-1 Ad Hoc (from 12-1), 12-1 Montreal, Youllneverwalkalone, 14-1 Harbour Pilot, 16-1 Bounce Back, Horus, Poliantas, Royal Auclair, Southern Star, Stormez, You're Agoodun, 20-1 First Gold, Foly Pleasant, Foxchapel King, Historg, Iznogoud, Risk Accessor, Shamawan, 25-1 Burlu, Carbury Cross, Carryonharry, Exit To Wave, Haut Cercy, 33-1 Go Ballistic, Majed, Maximise, Royal Predica, Royal de Vassey, Satchmo, The Bunny Boiler, 40-1 Bramblehill Duke, Djeddah, Fatehalkhair, 100-1 Keltic Heritage. Non-runner No Bet (All Quoted).


PERTEMPS FINAL: 9-2 Iris's Gift, 6-1 Ravenswood, 8-1 Chopneyev, 9-1 Keepetem, 10-1 Inching Closer, 14-1 Creon, Farinel, Perky's Pride, Rostrpvitch, Royal Emperor, 16-1 Native Estates, Rapid Deployment, 20-1 Ballylusky, Best Grey, Fairwood Heart, Guard Duty, No Discount, 25-1 Dubaiseven Stars, Jacdor, Kerrigand, Mirjan, Miss Fara, Moss Harvey, Propersquire, Surprising, Tucacas, 33-1 Ballysicyos, Carlovent, Monger Lane, Rum Pointer, Testify, The Culdee, Tribal Venture, 40-1 Exstoto, Imperial de Thaix, The Nomad, 50-1 Aquarius, Majestic Bay. Non-runner No Bet (All Quoted).

CHELTENHAM WEDNESDAY 12th MARCH
ROYAL & SUN ALLIANCE CHASE: 9-4 Keen Leader, 7-2 Jair du Cochet, 4-1 It Takes Time, 10-1 Tarxien, 12-1 Joss Naylor (from 14-1), 14-1 Barrow Drive, One Knight, 16-1 Farmer Jack, Stormez, 20-1 Irish Hussar, Stars Out Tonight, 25-1 Chicuelo, Hedgehunter, Iris Royal, Lord Jack, The Premier Cat, 33-1 First Love, Montreal, Skippers Cleuch. (Others Upon Request)

QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE: 5-2 Moscow Flyer, 5-1 Kadarann, 11-2 Cenkos, 13-2 Tiutchev (from 8-1), 7-1 Flagship Uberalles, 8-1 Edredon Bleu, 10-1 Native Upmanship, Seebald, 16-1 Lady Cricket, 20-1 Latalomne, 25-1 Dark'n Sharp, Geos, Young Devereaux, 50-1 Redemption, Turgeonev, Wahiba Sands, 66-1 Killultagh Storm, Strong Run, 100-1 Macs Gildoran. (Others Upon Request)

CORAL EUROBET CUP: 6-1 Korelo, 8-1 Emotional Moment (from 12-1), 10-1 Ravenswood, Xenophon, 12-1 Camden Tanner, Yeomans Point, 14-1 Chopneyev, Native New Yorker, Spectrometer, 16-1 Calling Brave, Double Honour, Healy's Pub, Over The Bar, Quazar, Tucacas, Spirit Leader, 20-1 Bob What, Calladine, Chauvinist, Palua, Sacundai, Safari Paradise, See You Sometime, 25-1 BAR

CHELTENHAM THURSDAY 13th MARCH
TOTE CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP: 6-4 Best Mate, 7-2 Beef Or Salmon, 9-1 Hussard Collonges, 10-1 Commanche Court, 12-1 Valley Henry, 16-1 Behrajan, Chives, 20-1 See More Business, 25-1 Colonel Braxton, Cyfor Malta, Harbour Pilot, Marlborough , 33-1 First Gold, It Takes Time, Rince Ri, Truckers Tavern, 50-1 Foly Pleasant, Fondmort, Stormez. (Others Upon Request)

JCB TRIUMPH HURDLE: 5-1 Don Fernando, 8-1 Golden Cross, Well Chief, 10-1 Saintsaire, 12-1 East Tycoon, Red Wine, 14-1 Moneytrain, 16-1 Mughas, Mutineer, Old Californian , 20-1 Bal de Nuit, Fortune Island, Lilium de Cotte, Nas Na Riogh, Party Airs, Smugglers Song, 25-1 Bareme, Dashing Home, Harchibald, Kenilworth, Spectroscope, 33-1 Andy Gin, Bellaficient, Bongo Fury, Duke Of Earl, Le Duc, Lewis Island, Mistanoora, Newlands Gold, Penny Pictures. (Others Upon Request)

STAYERS HURDLE: 6-4 Baracouda, 9-4 Limestone Lad, 13-2 Classified, 8-1 Iris's Gift, 9-1 Galileo, 16-1 Native Emperor, 20-1 Brother Joe, Deano's Beeno, 25-1 Laveron, Stromness, 33-1 Chopneyev, Over The Bar, Sudden Shock, The Bajan Bandit, 50-1 Crazy Horse, Palua. (Others Upon Request)

MARTELL GRAND NATIONAL: 10-1 Ad Hoc, Shotgun Willy, 14-1 Gunner Welburn, Iris Bleu, 16-1 Chives, 20-1 Bindaree, Cyfor Malta, Gingembre, Gunther McBride, Kingsmark, Montys Pass, 25-1 Ardent Scout, Carbury Cross, Hussard Collonges, Mini Sensation, More Than a Stroll, Rince Ri, Rith Dubh, Stormez, The Bunny Boiler, Youllneverwalkalone, 28-1 Amberleigh House, 33-1 Ballinclay King, Behrajan, Bounce Back, First Gold, Foxchapel King, Goguenard, Marlborough, Maximise, Southern Star, You're Agoodun. (Others Upon Request)

2003 FLAT SEASON
LINCOLN: 5-1 Adiemus, 8-1 Pablo, 12-1 Certain Justice, Golden Chalice, 14-1 Lingo (from 16-1), 20-1 Dumaran, Incline, Island Light, Jabaar, Nimello, Sahaat, Scotty's Future, 25-1 Atlantic Ace, Atlantic Rhapsody, Bourganville, Cape Town, Colisay, Courageous Duke, Gallant Boy, International Guest, Jewel Of India, Norton, Private Ben, Selective, The Judge, Thihn, Zucchero. (Others Upon Request)

SAGITTA 2000 GUINEAS: 7-1 Hold That Tiger, 12-1 Oasis Dream, Refuse To Bend, Trade Fair, Tomahawk, 14-1 Statue of Liberty, Tout Seul, 16-1 Van Nistelrooy, 20-1 Muqbil, 25-1 Aljadeed, Dalakhani, Desert Star, Governor Brown, Lateen Sails, Maghanim, Rocket Ship, Western Diplomat. (Others Upon Request)

SAGITTA 1000 GUINEAS: 4-1 Soviet Song, Six Perfections, 5-1 Russian Rhythm, 14-1 Intercontinental, 16-1 Echoes in Eternity, Khulood, 20-1 Geminiani, Nayzak, 33-1 Casual Look, Cassis, Hi Dubai, Loving Kindness, Pearl Dance, Reach for the Moon, Spinola, 50-1 Hanami. (Others Upon Request)

VODAFONE DERBY: 6-1 Brian Boru, 14-1 Dalakhani, 16-1 New South Wales, 20-1 Muqbil, Refuse To Bend, 25-1 Alberto Giacometti, Powerscourt, 33-1 Van Nistleroy, 40-1 Love You Always, Persian Majesty. (Others Upon Request)

VODAFONE OAKS: 16-1 Echoes In Eternity, Yesterday, 20-1 Nayzak, 25-1 Elasouna, Hi Dubai, L'Ancresse, Time Honoured. (Others Upon Application)



THE 2003 FESTIVAL IS ALMOST HERE




The waiting is all but over with the 2003 National Hunt Festival now almost upon us - there are just five days to go before the tapes go up. The finest three days of National Hunt racing in the world begin on Tuesday, March 11, and run through to Thursday, March 13. Once again the Festival is an all-ticket affair. There are still a few tickets available for the Tuesday and Wednesday, but these will be sold out before then and none will be available to purchase on the day.


For the first time in 50 years, Her Majesty The Queen will be present on Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup day, Thursday, March 13. The Queen will unveil the sculpture of her late mother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, at 12.30pm and will also present the Cheltenham Gold Cup to the winning connections. The Queen's own horse, First Love, could represent her in the Cathcart Challenge Cup, which is the penultimate race on the Thursday.


The Princess Royal will be present on Wednesday, March 12 and take over the role of her late grandmother in handing over the trophy for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.


A greyhound race features for the first time at Cheltenham after racing on Tuesday, when there will also be a rock band providing entertainment in the Guinness Village.


Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham's Managing Director, said: "Cheltenham racecourse is honoured to welcome Her Majesty The Queen on Thursday, March 13.

"The unveiling of the sculpture of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother is sure to be a very poignant moment."

GROUND LATEST

Simon Claisse, Cheltenham's Clerk of the Course, reported on Wednesday: "We have had 4.3mm of rain overnight and this morning.


"We have 6mm of rain forecast for today while Thursday is forecast to be dry. There could be some showers on Friday evening and there is some rain on the radar for over the weekend.


"At this stage, I would expect the ground to be on the easy side of good for the opening day of the National Hunt Festival."

THE FESTIVAL 2003 - FACTS & FIGURES

ATTENDANCE FIGURES

Attendances at Cheltenham have been steadily rising since the Second World War. The Festival became all ticket for the first time in 2000 and 50,000 racegoers attend each day. Total attendance during the 2001/2002 season was 300,000 and Cheltenham's other leading race meetings include The Open in November which this year saw over 62,000 people visit the racecourse during the three days.

TICKET SALES

2000 marked the first year of The Festival becoming all ticket for the entire three days whereby no admittance was given to those who had not purchased pre-paid tickets in advance. The Festival has remained like this ever since and is the only National Hunt meeting to be able to erect the 'Sold Out' signs before the day.


RACE VALUES & SPONSORSHIP

Over £4 million in prize money is offered at Cheltenham's 16 race days, equating to a rise of 76% in just five years. Total prize money at The Festival has risen for the 15th consecutive year to £2,305,000 in 2003 with the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup increasing £50,000 in value to £350,000 this year.

Sponsors contribute over 40% of annual prize money at Cheltenham, and The Festival accounts for 53% of all prize money on offer during the season.

There are 11 individual race sponsors at The Festival and Guinness support the Guinness Village whilst Courage Best backs the Enclosure of that name.

BETTING

The official estimate of total on-course betting turnover during The Festival is £40 million - an average of over £2 million per race. No returns are available from bookmakers operating at the Meeting, although Tote turnover is always a good indicator and last year was the Tote's best yet with just under £9 million bet at the course. The Festival is the Tote's highest turnover meeting (including Royal Ascot), with Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup Day their highest-turnover day in the entire racing calendar. The 2002 Festival accounted for 9% of the Tote Racecourse Division's annual turnover and during the three days over 900,000 transactions were taken by 650 operators at Cheltenham. The Smurfit Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup are ranked in the top 10 betting races of 2002.

There are 226 bookmaker's pitches at The Festival.

HORSES

There were 411 runners in the 20 races at the 2002 Festival. Of those over 80 came from Ireland, 10 from France and two from America. This season there are also entries from Germany and Norway. Over 400 stable staff will be working at The Festival and over 80 jockeys will be riding each day.

PARADE OF CHAMPIONS


There will be a Parade of Champions each day of The Festival as follows:

Tuesday Parade of Past Smurfit Champion Hurdle Winners
Collier Bay 1996
Flakey Dove 1994

Wednesday Parade of Past Queen Mother Champion Chase Winners
Call Equiname 1999
Deep Sensation 1993
Katabatic 1991

Thursday Parade of Past Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup Winners
Looks Like Trouble 2000
Cool Dawn 1998
Desert Orchid 1989

Each parade will take place in the paddock at approximately 12:45pm, with Ian Carnaby and Jonathan Powell interviewing connections, and the horses will also parade in front of the Grandstand before the feature race each day.

FESTIVAL RADIO, TELEVISION, NOTICE BOARD & INTERNET

Cheltenham is one of a number of major sports events to boast its own radio station. Festival Radio broadcasts within a five-mile radius of the Racecourse from 10am to 7:30pm and features news previews and features, race reports and commentaries, traffic updates, replays, reviews and form on frequency 87.7FM. Festival Radio is also available on www.cheltenham.co.uk including for the first time commentaries of all 20 races.

Once again, racegoers will be able to purchase Sounddec Earpiece Radios to help keep up with all the action on Festival Radio.


In addition, the Festival TV transmits from 11am on the Racecourse's CCTV leading into Channel 4's coverage of the Meeting which commences at 1.30pm each day and reaches an audience of 1.8 million, over 26% of the daytime audience.

In 2002 Cheltenham received 16 hours of terrestrial television coverage from Channel 4 excluding other transmissions from a further 25 television and documentary crews and representatives from over 160 British and Irish based radio stations. Approximately 180 photographers and over 500 members of the press are accredited to provide coverage of the Meeting. Racenews issues many press releases and press packs prior to and throughout the Festival which will be displayed on noticeboards at key points around the Racecourse and also on Cheltenham's website www.cheltenham.co.uk

TRAVEL

The majority of racegoers travel to Cheltenham by car and the Racecourse has the capacity to park 14,000 cars and 350 coaches per day. Typically 30,000 cars, 1,000 mini coaches and 1,000 coaches arrive and depart during the three days along with 220 helicopter movements. Around 8,000 people will travel by train to Cheltenham and, for the first time since the 1960s, a steam train will also be bringing guests to The Festival, resurrecting Cheltenham Racecourse's own station.

CATERING

Letheby & Christopher, the Racecourse caterer, will employ 3,000 staff to serve 27,000 meals, 14,000 bottles of champagne, 20,000 bottles of wine, 250,000 pints of draught beer, lager and Guinness and 24,000 bottles of beer, 60,000 bottles of minerals, 7,300 gallons of tea and coffee, 14,000 portions of chips, 20,000 beef burgers and hot dogs, 47,000 sandwiches and a further 10,000 packed lunches for staff.

The Tented Village alone will house between 6,000 - 8,000 guests each day and 100 private boxes in the Grandstand will cater for a further 2,000 guests.

In addition, 15 miles of construction materials will be erected for the three days.

THE IRISH INFLUENCE

The Irish influence at Cheltenham continues to grow each season at not only The Festival but also The Open Meeting in November. The last Irish-trained winner of the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup, Imperial Call, was in 1996 and the Irish also won the Queen Mother Champion Chase that season with Klairon Davis. They sent out seven winners in 1997 equalling their previous best total set in 1977.

In 2002 there were five Irish-trained winners, with Like-A-Butterfly getting them off to a terrific start by winning the first race, the Gerrard Wealth Management Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Approximately 7,000 racegoers travel over from Ireland for The Festival and it is estimated that up to 20% of the entire crowd are Irish.

Ireland has long been associated with some of the most successful riders with seven of Britain's top 10 jockeys this season hailing from across the Irish Sea - Tony McCoy, Tony Dobbin, Mick Fitzgerald, Graham Lee, Ruby Walsh, Barry Fenton and Jim Culloty.
CHELTENHAM'S TOP FESTIVAL TRAINERS

The late Fulke Walwyn is still by far the most successful Festival trainer with 40 winners gained over a 40-year period. His nearest rival is record-breaking Martin Pipe who has saddled 28 winners since 1981, with Nicky Henderson following closely behind with 25 winners since 1985. Fred Winter trained 28 winners and Tom Dreaper trained 26.

CHELTENHAM'S TOP RIDERS

Richard Dunwoody is the only jockey to have ridden over 100 winners at Cheltenham - 109 in total. Other prolific riders include Peter Scudamore (94), John Francome (71), Fred Winter (67) and Terry Biddlecombe (60).

The most successful current rider is Tony McCoy who has won 62 races at Cheltenham.


Charlie Swan continues to head the list of most successful current Festival riders with 17 winners to his name at the Meeting, including three Smurfit Champion Hurdles aboard Istabraq. Next in line is Tony McCoy with 13 Festival winners and Mick Fitzgerald and Norman Williamson on 10 each.

Peter Scudamore won the Leading Festival Rider Award most often, on a total of three occasions in 1991, 1987 and 1986. If either Swan or McCoy win the 2003 award, they will equal that total.

TRADE STANDS & ENTERTAINMENT

A day at The Festival is not just about the 20 races which are the most hotly-contested in the entire racing calendar. There are a variety of other attractions including 70 trade stands selling everything from bags, binoculars and bronzes to wine and wicker baskets, suits and silver jewellery.

Other activities include live music in all Enclosures including the well-known Irish band The Dubliners, parades for the feature races led by local Huntsmen and interviews and book signings with racing personalities in and around the Paddock.

HOTELS & GUEST HOUSES

Approximately 5,000 people stay in hotels and guest houses in the immediate area during Festival week, with many more staying further afield in Stratford, Malvern, Birmingham and throughout Gloucestershire. Festival week heralds the beginning of a busy period for local hoteliers leading into the Spring and Summer months.


PHOTO CALL FOR UNVEILING OF BRONZE STATUE OF QUEEN MOTHER

A bronze statue of the Queen Mother is to be unveiled at Cheltenham Racecourse by Her Majesty the Queen on Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup Day, Thursday, March 13, at 12.30pm.


The statue is a head study by the world-renowned sculptor Angela Conner, commissioned by her patron, the Duke of Devonshire. The statue will be unveiled in the winners' enclosure before racing and will be displayed permanently in a location close to the Royal Box.


The Queen Mother regularly attended the Cheltenham Festival , which hosts the race named in her honour, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, on the Wednesday of the meeting. The Princess Royal will be the Royal representative on the Wednesday this year and will present the trophy for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.


THE RENEGADES PLAY ON SMURFIT CHAMPION HURDLE DAY

Rock group THE RENEGADES will be playing in the Guinness Village on Smurfit Champion Hurdle day.


The band saw off some strong competition to win a talent competition organised jointly by Cheltenham Racecourse, Guinness and The Express newspaper.


After playing at Cheltenham, The Renegades head to London to play at the London Irish - Harlequins rugby union match on Saturday.


GREYHOUND RACE BRINGS TUESDAY'S ACTION TO A CLOSE

Racegoers will have an extra race to look forward to on Tuesday - The Cheltenham Festival Greyhound Stakes - which will be run over 200 yards on the New Course at 5.45pm.


Six runners will line up for the inaugural running of this event, which will be sponsored by the publication Greyhound Monthly. Qualification for the event has been through a series of heats and winners of the heats will then run in three semi-finals at Cheltenham on Sunday, with the top two in each semi-final qualifying to run in Tuesday's race.

The race will start from traps and the dogs will chase a drag hare. The winner will receive £1,000.


The opening times of the bars on the racecourse will be extended to cater for the racegoers who choose to stay behind and watch this unique event.


RACING AT CHELTENHAM

There has been racing at Cheltenham since 1815, when, 27 years after George III transformed Cheltenham from sleepy country town into fashionable Spa resort, the first meeting was held on Nottingham Hill, above Bishops Cleeve. It was an inauspicious affair, and three years passed before the first official meeting on nearby Cleeve Hill took place on August 25, 1818. Cheltenham's first recorded winner was Mr E Jones' five-year-old bay mare, Miss Tidmarsh.


Such was the popularity of that meeting that the following year the first Cheltenham Gold Cup was inaugurated. The three-mile weight-for-age Flat race for three-year-olds and upwards had a prize of 100 guineas and was won by Mr Bodenham's Spectre.


By the mid 1820s, Cheltenham races were as prestigious as Ascot, Epsom and Goodwood. But as always at Cheltenham, drama was never far away. A puritan streak began to appear in Cheltenham, led by a young and dynamic preacher called Francis Close. Some forceful oratory against the evils of betting and merrymaking began to affect attendances, and when in 1827, the Reverend Close was promoted to St Mary's Parish Church, his influence spread to the entire district. There were demonstrations on the course in 1829, and the grandstand was burnt to the ground a year later. By 1855, Flat racing had died out entirely.


A local benefactor, Lord Ellenborough, came to the rescue, offering to stage the races at Prestbury Park, to the north of the town. Not all of the meetings were held there, however, and the oldest race in the Calendar, the Grand Annual Steeplechase, was first run at Andoversford in April, 1834 and has since been run annually.


The latter half of the 19th century was an unremarkable time for racing at Cheltenham, and indeed for steeplechasing nationwide. Aside from the Grand National, there were precious few meetings at all. Francis Close, having done his work, had died, and despite the town harbouring many racing figures like Tom Oliver, William Archer, father of Fred, and George Stevens, racing was not resuscitated.


In 1902, the meeting that now dominates the jumping calendar was inaugurated on the current site. Lord Ellenborough's Prestbury Park had been sold several times in the intervening period, but was finally offered for racing by Mr W Baring Bingham. The people of Cheltenham gave the re-opening an enormous vote of confidence, and a huge crowd watched the racing.


In 1924, the first Gold Cup Steeplechase was run, won by Red Splash. This was swiftly followed by the Champion Hurdle, three years later. Now, 79 years on, the first buildings at Cheltenham have almost (but not entirely) given way to bigger and better grandstands, and the world's greatest racing Festival now attracts a capacity crowd of over 150,000 spectators, and a worldwide television audience.


THE HALL OF FAME

Until the most recent stage of redevelopment at Cheltenham, the sport had no means of portraying its heroes and history to the public. The Hall of Fame set out to rectify that fault, and provides a short but entertaining insight into the evolution of the sport, and its heroes past and present, both equine and human.

The Hall of Fame is open during weekdays from 10am-4.30pm and admission is free and will be open throughout the National Hunt Festival for racegoers.

THE NATIONAL HUNT FESTIVAL

The National Hunt Festival is the first major sporting event of the year, followed in the coming months by the Grand National, the Guineas, the FA Cup Final, Lord's Test, Henley, Wimbledon et al. Since its inception in 1902, it has continued to grow in importance to be the single most important meeting in British jump racing.


The architect behind the dream was Frederick Cathcart, then Chairman of Cheltenham, who laid out the course and planned the first National Hunt Meeting with Alfred Holman. Both are immortalised at Cheltenham in races held during the season. Indeed, the Cathcart is one of the 20 races in Festival week.


During the early years, the most significant race was the Grand Annual Steeplechase, which took place at a variety of different venues before finally settling at Cheltenham. The principal races in the early years of this century were all handicaps, unlike in Flat racing, where level-weights contests were commonplace. It was in this light that the first Gold Cup was inaugurated in 1924. The winning prize money was £685, against £1,285 for the Grand Annual. The 2003 Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup has a total value of £350,000.

Since Red Splash won the first Gold Cup on Wednesday, March 12, 1924, the winner of the "Blue Riband" has been recognised as the foremost steeplechaser of the year. It has proved itself as a Championship race in its own right, as results show. Since its inception, only two horses have won both the Gold Cup and the Grand National, and only one of those achieved the feat in the same season. That horse was Dorothy Paget's Golden Miller in 1934. L'Escargot won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1970 and 1971 and landed the Grand National in 1975.


The Champion Hurdle followed quickly on the heels of the premiership for steeplechasers. A race over two miles was started in 1927, but unlike the Gold Cup, statistics indicate that this is a race in which sequences of victories can mount up. Since its inception, no less than five horses have run up hat-tricks of wins, and 12 horses have won the race twice. Only five horses have won the Gold Cup twice, and only three have run up trebles.


The Queen Mother Champion Chase is a relative newcomer, having first started in 1959. First run as just the Champion Chase, it was named in honour of the Queen Mother in 1980 - the year of her eightieth bitrhday.


RACECOURSE HOLDINGS TRUST

Cheltenham is the flagship course owned by Racecourse Holdings Trust, a direct subsidiary of the Jockey Club. The group controls 13 of the country's 59 courses, and 50% of all gate receipts. Other courses within the Group include Aintree, Sandown Park, Epsom, Kempton Park, Haydock Park, Newmarket, Wincanton, Warwick, Huntingdon, Nottingham and Market Rasen. Carlisle is the group's most recent acquisition.

POSSIBLE LANDMARKS AT THE 2003 FESTIVAL

Several trainers and jockeys could reach notable landmarkers during this year's National Hunt Festival.


A good Cheltenham for Tony McCoy could help the all-conquering champion overtake Charlie Swan as the leading current jockey at the National Hunt Festival.

McCoy is at the moment on 13 winners, four behind Swan. As McCoy is likely to ride in every race while Swan restricts himself these days to hurdles and bumpers, there is a strong chance that "A P" will come out on top, if not this year, then in 2004.


Similarly with trainers, there is strong competition between Martin Pipe and Nicky Henderson as to the honour of being the current leading trainer at the National Hunt Festival.

Pipe goes into the 2003 Festival on 28 winners while Henderson has 25 winners. Pipe is in joint-second place with Fred Winter on the all-time list and Henderson in fifth. However, Fulke Walwyn's record of 40 winners looks unassailable at present.


Current jockeys with who have yet to ride a winner at the National Hunt Festival include: Alan Dempsey, Anthony Ross, Noel Fehily, Davy Russell, Graham Lee, Ben Hitchcott, Jacques Ricou, Vinnie Keane, Brian Crowley, Marcus Foley, Liam Cooper, Tom Scudamore, Christian Williams, Jamie Moore and Kieran Kelly.


Current trainers with who have yet to train a winner at the National Hunt Festival include: Alan King, Charlie Mann, Emma Lavelle, Andrew Balding, Albert Ennis, Richard Phillips, Guillaume Macaire, Christian von der Recke, Brian Ellison, Jamie Osborne, James Bowe, Thomas Tate, Victor Gethin, Denis Caro, Ben de Haan, Ian Williams, Seamus Mullins, Nicky Richards, Mary Reveley, Heather Dalton, Michael Halford and Tony Martin.


TOTE GEARS UP TO BREAK RECORDS AT CHELTENHAM

JACKPOT GUARANTEED AT £100,000 EACH DAY

The National Hunt Festival at Cheltenham is quite simply the most important three days of the year for the Tote's pool betting divisions. Around 9% of on-course turnover for the whole year will be staked by eager punters at Prestbury Park over the three days of the meeting, with spend at the track expected to pass £9 million for the first time ever.


The Tote Placepot pool exceeded £500,000 on each of the three days last year and is confidently expected to do so again and, this year, the Tote Jackpot will be guaranteed at £100,000 on each day. Five all-time pool betting records were broken at the 2002 Festival and it would be no surprise if all of them were surpassed again this year.


The Tote's PR Director Andy Clifton said: "This is the biggest week of the year for us and a huge amount of time and effort has gone into making this a record-breaking Cheltenham Festival for the Tote. I'm very confident that on-course turnover will exceed £9 million for the first time and the early success of the new look Jackpot has encouraged us to offer a £100,000 guarantee, double the previous biggest guarantee. Equally, the pools are so strong that even sizeable bets have little effect on the dividends, which encourages bigger punters to get involved. On top of everything else, the Queen is presenting the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup to the winning owner of the race, which will cap what I'm sure will be a memorable three days."

Tote Festival Facts and Figures

Every one of the 20 races at the 2002 Festival was in the Tote's top 25 on-course turnover races of the year

A fiver on every winner last year on the Tote would have returned £1,915, 52% better than the same bets at SP which would have given you £1,260

By this measure, the Tote has beaten SP at each of the last ten Cheltenham Festivals

The Tote Exacta beat the CSF by an average of £162 per race (to a £1 stake) and beat the CSF in 16 of the 20 races at Cheltenham in 2002, including a dividend of £2,226 in the Royal & Sun Alliance Chase

The Quadpot can prove very profitable at Cheltenham - last year it paid £699 to a £1 stake on Wednesday, just for picking 4 placed horses

The Tote Trifecta will be available on every race at the Festival

680 staff will process up to 1 million transactions on the racecourse during the meeting
95% of the Tote's operation will utilise wireless communication, including 37 couriers in hospitality areas with mobile Tote units
The pool betting records that were broken last year were: Win - £422,972, Place - £214,972 and Exacta - £77,726, all on the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup; Placepot - £555,937 on Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup Day; Quadpot - £23,400 on Champion Chase Day



JAGUAR X-TYPE TO BE WON IN LADIES DAY STYLE CONTEST AT AINTREE




Aintree Racecourse today unveiled plans for one of the most exciting promotions run at a sporting event in the United Kingdom.


Following on from the recent coverage within the National media regarding the resurgence of fashion within Liverpool, Aintree today announced the staging of 'LOOKING GOOD' - a free to enter style contest for racegoers, both male and female, attending Ladies Day (Friday 4th April) at this year's Martell Cognac Grand National meeting. The contest will reward the most stylish racegoer for racing at Aintree with a brand new Jaguar X-TYPE Car worth £20,000 as the first prize, as well as becoming the face of Aintree for 2003.


Entrants for 'LOOKING GOOD' must be at the racecourse prior to 11:30am on the day. All participants must register at the Winner's Enclosure, before parading on a catwalk between 12:00pm and 12:30pm in front of a judge's panel. Five finalists will then be selected to spend the afternoon in a VIP area prior to the final contest at 3:30pm, where the winner will be presented with the keys to the Jaguar X-TYPE. The four runners-up will each receive £150.00 of Wade Smith vouchers.


The contest, held for the first time at the Martell Grand National meeting, is being supported by partners, the Liverpool Echo, leading North West retailer, Wade Smith, and Liverpool car dealership, Jaguar House. Coverage of the event will not only be beamed throughout the racecourse itself via closed-circuit television but will also be included within BBC television and radio coverage of the Martell Cognac Grand National meeting.

The judge's panel will consist of Sue Lee, Woman's Editor for the Liverpool Echo, Lorraine McCulloch PR Director for Wade Smith and a yet to be announced high profile personality from the BBC.


Commenting on the launch of 'LOOKING GOOD', Dickon White, Marketing Manager, Aintree Racecourse, commented: "Ladies Day at Aintree is an integral part of the North West social calendar and the effort made by visitors, both male and female attending the meeting, is clearly visible. It will be a difficult task for the judges on the day to select five finalists with a fantastic prize of a Jaguar X-TYPE up-for-grabs."

White added, "We would strongly encourage racegoers to arrive early as we anticipate a large number of entries. We are grateful to receive such fantastic support from all of our partners involved and look forward to the biggest and best ever Ladies Day at Aintree."

Admission badges for Ladies Day are still available from Aintree on 0151 522 2929.


For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive


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