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Thursday, 23 January, 2003, 07:50 GMT
Cheltenham Festival revamp planned
Capacity crowds pack the stands for the famous Festival
The Festival attracts 50,000 racegoers each day
The Cheltenham Festival looks set to be extended to four days in 2005 - with the Gold Cup run on a Friday.

Under the plans, the famous March meeting's big race would move from its traditional Thursday slot.

Meanwhile, the Champion Hurdle would continue to be the highlight of the opening day, reports the Racing Post.

FESTIVAL FACTS
Crowd: Sell-out 50,000 capacity each day
Irish: At least 10,000 racegoers travel over from Ireland
Betting: Punters spend a total of 150m
Economy: Estimated 50m raked in by local hotels, pubs and other businesses

Extra races are being proposed for the meeting, currently run over three days from Tuesday to Thursday, including a cross-country chase.

Cheltenham managing director Edward Gillespie is keen on the proposal.

"The fact that we are talking about specific types of races indicates we are looking towards a positive decision towards a four-day Festival rather than the status quo," he said.

The course is ready to float the proposal to racing's rulers following a crucial board meeting.

It would be one of the most important developments in the 101-year history of the fixture.

And the move would provide a massive economic boost to the town of Cheltenham, which suffered when the 2001 Festival was abandoned due to foot-and-mouth disease.


POTENTIAL BIG-RACE SCHEDULE
(Feature races in bold, new races in italics)

  • Tuesday: Smurfit Champion Hurdle
    Four-Year-old Handicap Hurdle
  • Wednesday: Queen Mother Champion Chase Cross-Country Chase
  • Thursday: Bonusprint Stayers' Hurdle Four-Year-Old Bumper
  • Friday: Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup
    EBF Final (Novices' Hurdle)

  • All the big race action over the jumps

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    Cornelius Lysaght

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    See also:

    07 Mar 02 | Photo Galleries
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