There is a new start time for the 2009 Cheltenham Festival and that is 1:30 instead of the regular 2pm start. The reason given by the management was that a lot of punters arrive early for the festival as they want to soak up the athmosphere and as such they have to wait too long for the first race.
Managing Director Edward Gillespie outlined the new plans by saying “One of the lessons we learned from the unusual circumstances of The Festival in 2008, was that a significant number of our customers enjoyed the earlier start that we had on Thursday and Friday. With the gates opening at 10.30am, it can seem a long time until the first race, so we are going to commence racing at 1.30pm. It will also mean that five races on each day are now broadcast live on Channel 4.”
Another change to the festival is that the main race on each day will be the fourth race which will go off a 3:20 providing a betting build up for TV.
Lastly, Conditional Jockeys will be given a chance to shine at The Festival for the first time, making a total of 26 races, with seven race cards on Wednesday and Friday. The Conditionals’ Hurdle will be a handicap over an extended two and a half miles on totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup Day.