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If I were King of Cheltenham

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  • #1682175
    Avatar photoRefuse To Bend
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    • Total Posts 1607

    Nine times out of ten I watch Cheltenham through a recording and always fast forward through the Cross Country and by time the Gold Cup is done I’ve switched off before the Fox Hunters.

    "Life is timeless, days are long when you're young"

    #1682177
    Marlingford
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    • Total Posts 1550

    I’m not keen on the Saturday Tonge! 🙂 Far too many big races that used to take place midweek have moved to the weekend already, where they get lost among all the other sport. Keeping the Festival to midweek keeps it “special” in my view.

    #1682178
    Avatar photoTonge
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    • Total Posts 2706

    Indeed Marlingford, but it wouldn’t REALLY be part of the Festival. Rather like the old Ascot Heath day. Take the point about Saturdays being already congested though and happy to move the rubbish (sorry “niche”) races to the Tuesday or Friday if necessary.

    #1682189
    Avatar photoGingertipster
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    Just because I am not interested in the Hunter does not matter, amateur riders should have a race at the Festival and good that it’s immediately after the Professional’s Blue Ribbon. I like a space after the Big One for me to wind down anyway. However, amateurs don’t need two races and the Kim Muir is too much like the Ultima anyway. Make it a Veteran’s Handicap Chase that could attract ex-Gold Cup types, make it for conditional riders – the vet’s can look after the inexperienced jocks… And scrap the Martin Pipe which is just a downmarket County… I do think a Veterans Handicap would enhance the Festival. Be brilliant to see some of the good old good ones we loved watching win the competitive Grade 1’s and handicaps of a year or two ago having another go. Only this time without the unexposed young guns.

    I really don’t like the X-Country, not competitive enough and the better horses would enhance the quality of the Ultima or Veterans Chase. If (and only “if”) keeping the X Country then make it the Hunter Chase. Hunters should jump different types of fences so it seems the best race for them. So if there is to be a X Country it can be the Hunter, With the existing Hunter Chase over the Gold Cup course moved to the April meeting.

    If (and only “if”) another type of race is needed, then make it a proper 3m6f Handicap Chase. A proper trial for the Grand National. (I know there’s the Midlands Grand National, but (without studying) how often does it attract real Aintree Grand National horses in recent years?). Winner of the Cheltenham Staying Chase gets a guaranteed run at Aintree. (Actually, I believe a “guaranteed win and you’re in” the Grand National for many staying handicap chases throughout the season could encourage more Grand National types to run during the season… rather than seldom seen or running over hurdles).

    Am in two minds about the Ryanair. I was against the race to begin with, but it’s grown on me. The Cathcart it (sort of) replaced was often run with an odds-on fav, very uncompetitive. To go from 2 miles to 3m2f would be a massive jump too. There did seem to be a growing pool of top class chasers big enough for three Grade 1’s for established chasers. Two mile division may have suffered a little but on the whole imo “was” worth the new race… However, in the last couple of years things do seem to have changed. If getting any worse it may want a re-think. Should it be downgraded to Grade 2 in order to encourage the top horses to go for the other two races? Not sure, as it could end up like the Cathcart. I’ll say keep it as it is for now.

    There certainly aren’t enough top class hurdlers for a “Ryanair Hurdle”. Now that really would make the “Champion” a walkover for Constitution Hill.

    …And I haven’t even started on the novices yet, or the f’in’ Mares!!! :whistle:

    Value Is Everything
    #1682195
    Avatar photoTonge
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    Veterans’ race is a great shout.

    #1682198
    Marlingford
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    • Total Posts 1550

    I know it’s been discussed on here before, but nobody in their right mind would introduce an extreme distance novices’ chase for amateur riders at the Festival if designing it from scratch.

    It would be a shame to lose the National Hunt Chase though given its long history, and turning it into a veterans’ chase could be a good option.

    #1682201
    Avatar photoCork All Star
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    • Total Posts 8116

    “Good that it’s immediately after the Professional’s Blue Ribbon. I like a space after the Big One for me to wind down anyway.”

    I recognise the point about the Hunters being a chance to wind down after the Gold Cup. However, I think the post-Gold Cup programme on the Friday is quite weak. Hunter Chase, Mares Chase, Conditional Jockey Handicap. It is not very inspiring. If I had a ticket, I would be tempted to leave after the Gold Cup to dodge the crowds.

    “However, amateurs don’t need two races and the Kim Muir is too much like the Ultima anyway.”

    Agree, although in fact amateur riders have three races: Hunter, Kim Muir and National Hunt Chase. I find the Kim Muir an inferior version of the Ultima. I don’t see the point of it.

    “Scrap the Martin Pipe which is just a downmarket County”.

    More like a second Coral Cup but with a lot of jockeys who racegoers do not know much about. I know it has been won by some good horses but I think it is one of the least interesting races of the week.

    The Mares races should be moved to the two day April meeting, the second day of which is already a Mares day. I suppose that puts it just after Aintree and closer to Punchestown but I don’t see why there need to be Mares races at the festival. They do detract from the established races.

    However, it is all academic. There is no chance of going back to a three day fixture. The fourth day has been a huge money spinner and that is not going to be given up. I doubt the hotel and restaurant owners and publicans of Cheltenham and the West Country would want to lose the fourth day either.

    #1682204
    Avatar photoCork All Star
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    • Total Posts 8116

    From a commercial point of view, the four day festival has been a tremendous success. It is now one of the biggest sporting events in the country.

    Racing purists need to recognise the festival is no longer just for them. There are not enough of us to make money and we are dying out anyway.

    Cheltenham wants a large crowd and to charge them rip off prices. By the time they are on their fourth pint of Guinness at £8 a time, they do not really care what they are watching. It largely explains how they get away with such a weak finish to the card, especially on the Friday.

    #1682206
    Richard88
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    Whatever you think of it, it gets eyeballs on the sport for four days and that can only be a good thing.

    Many sports are the same, tennis gets Wimbledon for two weeks. How many people who watch that see so much as a single point of tennis the rest of the year? In cricket, Test matches sell out every summer but the County Championship is played out in front of one man and his dog.

    I imagine the aficionados of those sports aren’t particularly interested in overpriced strawberries and cream or sitting in Edgbaston’s Hollies Stand any more than people here are in expensive Guinness.

    #1682224
    Avatar photoNathan Hughes
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    Somerset County Championship always have a healthy few thousand Richard, more if they are going well
    doesn’t pay the wages though… :rose:

    Blackbeard to conquer the World

    #1682225
    stilvi
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    I don’t like veteran’s races full stop. Why create special handicap races so older horses can take it in turns to win again. Ireland has felt the need to grasp the idea. You already have two veterans races in the Cross Country and the Foxhunters. The Festival should be about the best now, and the future best.

    #1682226
    Marlingford
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    • Total Posts 1550

    The Festival isn’t just for the best now as there are loads of handicaps.

    Veterans’ races seem to be quite popular as far as I can make out, and I think the longevity of its participants is one of Jump racing’s biggest selling points.

    Young horses get given plenty of special allowances, so I see no reason why the older horses shouldn’t get in on the act too.

    #1682228
    stilvi
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    • Total Posts 4830

    There are already plenty of (top level) handicaps at the Festival, why create another that isn’t as good? There is already a veteran’s series culminating in a very lucrative Final. I think that is more than enough for those who enjoy seeing them.

    As regards for longevity, yes, that’s a big win over flat racing, but there will be many 10yo’s and above in the other races.

    #1682230
    Avatar photoCork All Star
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    • Total Posts 8116

    Agree with Stilvi. I don’t think a veterans Chase is needed. They already have a good programme. Why does everything have to be at the festival?

    Veterans can still run well in and win the established handicaps. Vintage Clouds won the Ultima at something like his fifth attempt but I expect he would have been in the veterans race if that option had been there.

    #1682234
    Marlingford
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    I don’t actually think a veterans’ chase is a vital addition to the Festival, and am fairly content with the programme as it is as I’ve said above.

    However, I do wonder if the days of the National Hunt Chase in its present form are numbered, and think a veterans’ chase run under the same name may be a better alternative.

    #1682236
    Avatar photoRefuse To Bend
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    Next we’ll have a greys chase, greys hurdle, grey mares chase, grey mares hurdle mind you the entries would be small.

    "Life is timeless, days are long when you're young"

    #1682237
    Avatar photoQuelle Farce
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    • Total Posts 689

    I agree with stilvi on the veterans. Give them a race at Cheltenham and all of a sudden all the veterans races in the season will also be all about the big Cheltenham final too. And it would be considered the final by most, despite the brilliant Sandown event in January.

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