Cheltenham Racecourse will pay tribute to the hugely popular owner Andy Stewart at this month’s Showcase Meeting, with a race named in his honour.
Stewart, who owned legendary Jumps horses including four-time Stayers’ Hurdle winner Big Buck’s, Saphir Du Rheu, Celestial Halo and Pacha Du Polder, passed away last month.
And while his family’s red, white and black colours have been synonymous with Cheltenham and The Festival in particular since the turn of the century, Stewart has also helped raised thousands of pounds for spinal research.
The Andy Stewart Memorial Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Steeple Chase will be run in his honour on the Friday of the Showcase Meeting at Cheltenham, while Big Buck’s will parade ahead of the race. There will also be a private memorial on course prior to the meeting.
His son Paul Stewart, said: "We are extremely moved that Cheltenham has chosen to name a race in honour of Dad. I know he would have been dearly touched by such a gesture.
“He adored Cheltenham, especially The Festival and the family has been lucky enough to share so many amazing memories together at the racecourse. We are delighted Big Buck’s, who bought Dad so much joy over his career, will be paraded on this most special of days.”
Ian Renton, The Jockey Club’s Regional Managing Director for Cheltenham and the West, added: “We were terribly saddened to learn of the passing of Andy Stewart last month and we’re pleased to be able to honour his legacy with a race dedicated to him at the Showcase Meeting.
“There can be no doubt that Andy had a huge impact on the sport in many different ways, particularly at Cheltenham, where he helped to create unforgettable memories over the years with the likes of Pacha Du Polder, Saphir Du Rheur and the legendary Big Buck’s.
“It promises to be an emotional occasion for Andy’s family and we’re proud to be able to play our part in paying respect to a man who did so much for the sport during his life.”
Also being celebrated during The Showcase Meeting is the fifth year of Racing Welfare’s Racing Staff Week, which runs from October 16th–23rd and celebrates the contribution of those who work in every aspect of the industry.
Alongside a huge range of events and activities taking place across the UK, there are also four Lifetime in Racing (LiR) Awards which will be handed out to recipients during the week at race meetings at Cheltenham, Newbury, Newmarket and Carlisle.
The awards are open to all racing industry staff who have worked in the sport for 30 years or more and each winner will get a VIP experience at their given race day, with one of those taking place on Showcase Saturday at Cheltenham.
Dawn Goodfellow, Chief Executive of Racing Welfare, said: “Racing Staff Week is all about celebrating the contribution of each and every person involved in the racing industry and we’re delighted that we’re able to bring an aspect of that to the home of Jump racing.
“The Lifetime in Racing Awards are open to those most loyal of servants to the sport up and down the country and recognise the incredible contribution that those people have made to racing during their careers.
“Each of our four winners this year are very worthy recipients of the award and we look forward to celebrating them, culminating with The Showcase Meeting at Cheltenham.”
The Jockey Club will also pay tribute during the Showcase Meeting to the efforts to vaccinate Britain, and will host 780 people who have worked towards providing COVID vaccines to the general public in the town.
Situated at Cheltenham East Fire Station, the local centre has been serving the entire town and the combined effort of around 1,200 people has seen 190,000 vaccines given out to date in the area.
Each guest of the course will be able to enjoy a top-class day of racing which will include a race named in their honour - the NHS Vaccinating Heroes Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle.
Sarah Gallagher, Clinical Lead for the Cheltenham COVID Vaccine Team, was hugely thankful for the gesture. She said: “It’s wonderful to see everybody being recognised for the monumental effort that has gone into the hugely successful vaccination programme across Cheltenham this year, which has so far seen 190,000 vaccines given out across the area.
“This has very much been a team effort with 1,200 staff involved in order to make this happen and we’re extremely grateful to The Jockey Club for rewarding all 780 people who are able to attend with what should be a wonderful day out at Cheltenham Racecourse.
“Special thanks must also go to the team at Cheltenham East Fire Station, who have gone above and beyond to accommodate us while still being an operational service themselves.
“The guys there have been doing everything they can to make sure things run smoothly, including little things like re-routing their trucks and getting up early on the night shift to help out and we’re beyond grateful to Kev Adcock and his team for their support.”
Ian Renton, The Jockey Club’s Regional Managing Director for Cheltenham and the West, said: “We have made no secret of our desire at The Jockey Club to thank those who have contributed to the ongoing national effort during the pandemic and we’re delighted to be able to welcome some local heroes for a top-class day of racing here at Cheltenham.
“The vaccination centre at Cheltenham Fire Station has been a huge success in the local area and we’re grateful to each of the 1,200-plus people who have helped to ensure that we’ve been able to return to some sort of normality and get back to what we do best here at the racecourse.
“We’re delighted that nearly 800 people are able to join us on Saturday and this is our way of saying thank you for their huge contribution to the national effort so far this year.”