Cheltenham Racecourse is all set to welcome in another year with the richest-ever programme on New Year’s Day, Monday, January 1.
For 2018, the seven-race programme will headline £260,000 in prize money – an increase of £48,000 (23 per cent) on the £212,000 offered 12 months before.
The most valuable race of the day is the G3 BetBright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase, which is now worth £75,000 (up 25 per cent compared to £60,000 in 2017), while the G2 Dorman Engineering Relkeel Hurdle has also received a 25 per cent increase in value to £50,000 (£10,000).
Last season saw jockey Lizzie Kelly land the Dorman Engineering Relkeel Hurdle on Agrapart, trained by her stepfather Nick Williams, while past winners of the BetBright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase include Cheltenham specialist Village Vic (2016) and Splash Of Ginge (2015), who went on to land this season’s G3 BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on November 18.
The other five races on New Year’s Day are the £35,000 (+£3,000) G2 BetBright Dipper Novices’ Chase, the £25,000 (+£5,000) Listed Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, the Listed £25,000 (+£5,000) EBF Stallions & Cheltenham Pony Club Bumper, the £25,000 (+£5,000) Watch Live Racing on BetBright.com Handicap Chase and the £25,000 (+£5,000) BetBright Casino Handicap Hurdle.
Simon Claisse, Regional Head of Racing, Jockey Club Racecourses South West & Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham, commented: “With the transfer of the Dorman Engineering Relkeel Hurdle from The International in 2016, New Year’s Day has developed into a high-class day of Jump racing which offers five Graded and Listed contests, plus two very competitive handicaps.
“We are proud therefore to offer a 23 per cent increase in values for New Year’s Day in 2018, meaning that the prize money now totals £260,000.
“There is no race worth less than £25,000 and the New Year will begin with an excellent day of action at the Home of Jump Racing.
“We look forward to welcoming another big holiday crowd on New Year’s Day, when the gates will open at 10.30am with a first race at 12.15pm.”
Accompanied children, aged under 18, are admitted free of charge at all Cheltenham racedays except during The Festival in March.
The ROA Family Fun Zone
With an emphasis on families, racegoers of all ages benefit from the he ROA Family Fun Zone where there will be special visits from Paddington Bear, to coincide with the release of the latest film. The first 500 children will receive a walking pet balloon, and balloon artists Twistina and Twistopher will enthral with their art. With entertainment including Showtime Shane, face-painting, pony plaiting, horse hoppers, colouring in and rosette making, there is an abundance of activities for families to enjoy - and certificates to take home to remember the day. There will also be live Animal Magic, bringing a collection of unusual animals to meet. The ROA Family Fun Zone is situated in the tented village.
New Year’s Day Order of Running
Time Race Prize Money Distance
12.15pm Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Listed) £25,000 2m 4½f
12.50pm Watch Live Racing on BetBright.com Handicap Chase £25,000 3m 2½f
1.25pm BetBright Dipper Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) £35,000 2m 5f
2.00pm BetBright Best for Festival Betting Handicap Chase (Grade 3) £75,000 2m 5f
2.35pm BetBright Casino Handicap Hurdle £25,000 3m
3.10pm Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle (Grade 2) £50,000 2m 4½f
3.45pm EBF Stallions & Cheltenham Pony Club NH Flat Race (Listed) £25,000 1m 6f
After New Year’s Day, the next fixture at Cheltenham is Festival Trials Day, Saturday, January 27, 2018.