The Racing Post, the UK's leading horseracing and sports betting paper, has secured a major sponsorship deal at this year's Cheltenham Festival.
The Racing Post Plate, formerly run as the Mildmay of Flete Chase, takes place on the third day of The Festival, Thursday, March 16. The newspaper will also be sponsoring both the Leading Rider Award and Leading Trainer Award at the four-day Festival.
The two-year contract also makes the Racing Post the Official Racing and Betting Newspaper to the Festival.
Edward Gillespie, Managing Director of Cheltenham Racecourse, commented: "We are delighted that the premier racing and betting paper is sponsoring this superb race and the two awards. The Racing Post has been a supporter of Cheltenham and the Festival for many years and this deal further cements our relationship."
Jeremy Reed, Managing Director of the Racing Post, added: "The Cheltenham Festival is one of the leading events in the racing calendar and for many the pinnacle of the racing year. Bringing together the Racing Post with such a great event further demonstrates our commitment to horseracing.
"With our sponsorship of the Racing Post Chase in February and the Racing Post Trophy in October, this new Cheltenham opportunity is a wonderful complement to our sponsorship portfolio."
The Racing Post Plate boasts a prize fund of £75,000 and is the fifth of Cheltenham’s valuable two and a half mile handicap chases run throughout the season, following on from the Paddy Power Gold Cup, Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup, Unicoin Homes Handicap Chase and the Ladbrokes Trophy. The first running of the two mile, four and a half furlong event in 1951 resulted in a dead-heat between Slender and Canford.
Over the years, plenty of well-known names have scooped the prize including the dual winners The Tsarevich (1985/86) and Elfast (1992/94), as well as the likes of future Grand National winner Specify (1969) and Cheltenham specialist Half Free (1984).
In more recent times, Martin Pipe has been the man to follow with four wins in the last eight runnings - Terao (1997), Majadou (1999), Dark Stranger (2000) and Blowing Wind (2002). Last year’s race saw a 25/1 shock when Liberthine came home the seven-length victor in the hands of talented amateur Sam Waley-Cohen to give trainer Nicky Henderson a third success in the contest.
The award for leading jockeys will be decided on the number of winners ridden over the four days with placed horses taken into consideration in the event of a tie. The trainers’ award will be decided on the number of winners, with prize money won taken into consideration if there is a tie.
This year’s contest for the Racing Post Leading Rider Award looks as open as ever. With defending champion Graham Lee and previous winners Ruby Walsh, Tony McCoy, Richard Johnson, Barry Geraghty and Mick Fitzgerald all leading contenders, along with the likes of Paul Carberry, Timmy Murphy and Robert Thornton.
The previous winners of the Racing Post Leading Rider Award are listed below. (On some occasions the winner was decided on the number of placed horses partnered):
2005 Graham Lee (3)
Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham’s Managing Director, said: “The Festival brings together the best jump horses in Britain and Ireland, with raiders from further afield, and the intensity of the competition is shown by five different jockeys taking the Racing Post Leading Rider Award at the past five Festivals.
“The Festival is one of the few sporting arenas where leading professionals and leading amateurs compete side by side and a victory over the four days is sure to be the highlight of any jockey’s career.”
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