Clear, concise, comprehensive horseracing analysis and insight from Paul Jones, former author of the Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide, concentrating on jump racing in addition to the best of the Flat and leading Sports events.
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Cheltenham Festival Changes For The Better

October 21st

Ahead of their Showcase Meeting that starts on Friday, Cheltenham have announced four significant changes to the Festival. I will wait until the Cheltenham Ante-Post copy goes live on November 16 before I go into those in detail but here’s a quick summary:

  1. Cross Country Chase changes from a handicap to a conditions event - Tick

  2. Horses must finish in the first six in a qualifier (was first eight) to be eligible for the Pertemps Final - Double Tick

  3. The new Trull House Stud Novices’ Hurdle for mares has been registered as the Dawn Run Novices’ Hurdle - Tick (except I would prefer it to be called the Dawn Run Novices’ Hurdle with the sponsor name before it, I think she’s deserved it. A big bugbear of mine I’m afraid)

  4. There will be a 40 minutes’ gap between all races – Tick….I think

Regards the extended five minutes between all races, does that now mean Willie Mullins will have time to get some of his horses to extend themselves to more than one lap of the paddock or, as in many cases, head straight for the walkway into the paddock and ten strides later embark on the walkway onto the course?

As for the Pertemps qualifiers now being cut to a top-six finish, that’s a very good move. In fact, here is what I wrote in my overview for the Pertemps Final in last season’s Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide:

“The move brought in last season to tighten up the qualifying procedure so that horses must finish in the first eight in a qualifier to be eligible to gain a place in the Final was well received, even if it meant that only one winner in the last 26 years would have been ineligible. However, given there are as many as 20 qualifiers now run in Britain, Ireland and France and much has been made this season of the fact there are fewer jump horses in training, connections have a greater choice which has meant that it is far more difficult NOT to qualify given the field sizes. All eight runners in the Aintree, Kempton and Carlisle qualified by virtue of just lining up, just one horse missed out in the nine-runner qualifiers at Sandown and Carlisle and only Cheltenham’s qualifier back in October could muster more than 12 runners. As far as Britain is concerned, it is now almost a pointless regulation. Make it slightly difficult at least. I argued last season that I would have preferred to see it cut to finishing in the top six in a qualifier to be eligible given that five winners of the Final since 1989 finished only seventh or eighth in their qualifier. Much was made last season each time a horse finished eighth in a qualifier last season along the lines of ‘job done’ but the first seven home all finished in the first four when they qualified.”




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