Lord Vestey, who was Chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse for 21 years, will be remembered at The Festival™ supporting WellChild this year with the National Hunt Novices’ Chase run in his honour.
The Grade Two Sam Vestey National Hunt Novices’ Chase takes place as the seventh and final race on day one (Tuesday 16th March).
Lord Vestey, who sadly passed away aged 79 on February 4th this year, served as Chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse from 1990 to 2011 and oversaw some of the most significant developments at the Home of Jump Racing for generations, including the expansion of The Festival from three to four days in 2005. Throughout his tenure as Chairman the course underwent constant improvement and attendance rose from an average of 147,000 to 220,000 for the week of The Festival.
He also enjoyed significant success as an owner-breeder, notably with the 1997 Stayers’ Hurdle winner Karshi, trained by his sister-in-law Henrietta Knight, and successes on the Flat including the Group race winners Radwell, Unblest, Macadamia and Coulsty.
Lord Vestey, who also served as a Lord in Waiting and Master of the Horse to The Queen, was renowned as being just as at home mixing with racegoers all over the course as he was greeting dignitaries in the Royal Box.
Ian Renton, Regional Managing Director for The Jockey Club, said: “It was terribly sad to hear of Sam Vestey’s passing last month. He had a lifelong passion and commitment to Cheltenham and it is great testament to him that the racecourse went from strength to strength during his Chairmanship.
“It therefore seemed very appropriate to run the National Hunt Chase in his honour for 2021. It is going to be a very different Festival, for sure, but the name Sam Vestey on the racecard will serve as a reminder of the wonderful Festivals of past years and help us look forward to those yet to come – something Sam would have wanted us very much to do.”