Major boost to British Jumps season climax

1st October 2013

Quentin Collonges wins the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown Park

Quentin Collonges wins the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown Park

Sandown Park to host all-Jumps season finale on bet365 Gold Cup Saturday
  • BHA and Great British Racing leads creation of Jumps break to clearly define the end to the Jumps season
  • Prize money significantly boosted for the two-day bet365-sponsored fixture
  • Saturday will include upgraded Grade 1 bet365 Celebration Chase
  • Friday to stage bolstered Flat card from best of both days, featuring three Group races   
  • No other Jumps racing will take place in Britain on bet365 Gold Cup Saturday

Sandown Park Racecourse today announced a significant boost to the official climax of the British Jumps racing season with the news it will stage an all-Jumps card on the Saturday of its two-day meeting in April, 25 & 26 April, 2014 – featuring the bet365 Gold Cup and newly-upgraded bet365 Celebration Chase – followed by the British Horseracing Authority-led creation of a four-day break for professional jockeys.

Recently bolstered by upgrading of the bet365 Celebration Chase to Grade 1 status, bet365 Gold Cup Day will move from a mixed card to a high quality all-Jumps card from 26 April, 2014, befitting the official finale of the National Hunt season in Britain. Sandown Park will be the only racecourse to stage Jumps racing on the day as part of The Jockey Club’s contribution to creating a better-defined climax, with the fixture previously run at Market Rasen moving off to be replaced by Flat racing at Haydock Park*.

The Friday of the bet365-sponsored meeting, on 25 April in 2014, will combine the best of the Flat races previously staged across both days of the fixture to enhance Friday’s all-Flat card in terms of both quality and prize money. This
will include the Group 2 bet365 Mile, Group 3 bet365 Classic Trial and Group 3 bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes. The final race detail for both days, along with the total prize money on offer in 2014 – up significantly from 2013 – will be confirmed in due course.

The creation of a four-day Jumps racing break now provides Britain with a clearly-defined end to the Jumps season, which previously restarted in earnest the day after bet365 Gold Cup Saturday. The BHA and Great British Racing has worked with British racing’s stakeholders to deliver this in 2014, with fixtures at Exeter, Kelso, Ludlow, Towcester and Wetherby moving to accommodate the break, Arena Racing Company being involved to facilitate the change, and the Levy Board providing flexibility on its funding criteria. Cheltenham Racecourse will stage its Hunter Chase meeting for amateur jockeys on the Wednesday following the Sandown Park finale, with professional jockeys first in action on the Thursday at Sedgefield (afternoon), Ffos Las and Towcester (both evening).

bet365 Gold Cup Saturday stages National Hunt racing’s End of Season Awards ceremony, where the Jump season’s Champion Jockey, Trainer and Owner are crowned, and the result of voting for the ‘People’s Award’ is revealed. The ceremony will now be staged on the Saturday evening after racing, allowing it to grow in scale and
celebration.

The fixture’s highly popular Parade of Champions will continue to celebrate the true stars of National Hunt racing at the Esher venue, which in recent years has included Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup and Crabbie’s Grand National winners, alongside other established champions and emerging talent. In April 2013, champions parading included Bobs Worth, Captain Conan, Cue Card, Kauto Star, Simonsig, Sprinter Sacre and Zarkandar.

In due course Sandown Park will announce a new title for the two-day event, previously named the bet365 Ultimate Celebration.

Rupert Trevelyan, London Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, said:

“Going all-Jumps for the bet365 Gold Cup Saturday as part of a clearly-defined climax to Britain’s National Hunt season has been under consideration for some time. The successful scheduling of a Jumps break after we officially bring down the curtain and the Grade 1 upgrade of the bet365 Celebration Chase means now is the right time to take this step. We are hugely grateful for the support of our sponsors, bet365, who have made significant
investments in this two-day fixture in recent years, alongside The Jockey Club’s own contribution to create a fitting finale.

“The BHA and Great British Racing deserves maximum credit for working with stakeholders to deliver a clearly-defined break at the end of the Jumps season and, as well as our The Jockey Club’s efforts moving fixtures at Market Rasen and Exeter, we must thank Arena Racing Company, Kelso, Ludlow, Towcester and Wetherby racecourses, and the Levy Board, for their actions in this regard for the good of British racing. This is another example of the progress we can achieve when we all work together with our sport’s best interests at heart.”

Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys’ Association (PJA), said:

"This is great news for the sport. Well done to Sandown Park for going to an all-Jumps card as a fitting climax to the National Hunt season and to the courses who have moved to create this end of season break. At this time of year
Jockeys wanted a short break like this rather than a longer one, in addition to the break in August and a shorter one in September I am expecting in the 2014 fixture list.

"Sandown now staging the only National Hunt fixture on that last day of the season also means Conditional Jockeys can be present and we can crown the Champion Conditional as part of the awards that day, which is also brilliant news."

Rod Street, Chief Executive of Great British Racing, the promotional arm of British racing, said:

“Sandown’s new finale to the Jumps season is a major step forward for the sport. From the outset, we’ve been strong advocates of clearly defined seasons and championships as they’re vital for the proper promotion of racing to the wider public. It’s a credit to all concerned that we’ve managed to make this happen.”

*Details to be announced with the publication of the BHA’s 2014 Fixture List