Cheltenham Festival has an extra race for next year
As was already widely expected, the 2015 Cheltenham Festival will now have 28 races in total after the racecourse announced yesterday that there would be a Mares Novices' Hurdle run at the meeting for the first time.
With the charity race no longer taking place at the Festival meeting, the The Grade Two £75,000 Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle will be the last race on the third day which next year will fall on St Patrick's Day.
The race will be run over 2m1f and will be open to fillies and mares aged four-year-old and upwards.
Speaking on the announcement trainer Nicky Henderson welcomed the news and even hoped to have runners in the race for the sponsors Richard and Lizzie Kelvin Hughes who previously owned the high class mare Chomba Womba.
Henderson said: "I am, not surprisingly, delighted to hear not only that there is going to be a 28th race at The Festival, but particularly that it is going to be a mares novices' hurdle which will be an enormous boost to the National Hunt breeding fraternity."
Currently the most successful trainer at the Cheltenham Festival, Henderson added: "The introduction of a mares novices' hurdle as the part of the expansion of black type opportunity for mares is another great incentive for National Hunt breeders and can only be of benefit to National Hunt racing as a whole.
"We have been lucky enough to have trained a number of high-class and successful mares over the years both with homebreds and those bought at public auction and this new race, sponsored by such great supporters of National Hunt racing and breeding, Richard and Lizzie Kelvin Hughes at Trull House Stud, is great news.
"Indeed, we currently have what I hope are two top prospects and high-class young mares in Richard and Lizzie's homebred Chocca Wocca, out of their great racemare Chomba Womba, and Robins Reef, also part-owned by Ronnie Bartlett.
"They both looked very high class when winning their bumpers last spring.