Cheltenham announced today that it has been granted permission by the British Horseracing Authority to delay the closing date of the Christie’s Foxhunter Steeple Chase at the Cheltenham Festival to close on Tuesday, February 24, but will now close on Tuesday, March 3. The qualification date moves from February 23 to March 2.
To qualify to run in this race, horses must, since December 1, 2006, have been placed first or second on two occasions in Hunter Chases or have won two Open Chases at Point-to-Point Meetings, or have won one Open Chase at a Point-to-Point and finished first or second in a Hunter Chase. As a result of the recent bad weather, nine Point-to-Point meetings and seven Hunter Chases have been abandoned. This extra week will mean that an additional 10 Point-to-Point meetings and four Hunter Chases will now be run before the cut-off for qualification, weather permitting, giving many more horses the opportunity to qualify.
Cheltenham’s Director of Racing, Simon Claisse , said: “With so many fixtures being lost to snow and waterlogging in the last two or three weeks, there was a groundswell of support from the point-to-point community to extend the qualification period by a week. This should help to ensure that the best possible field lines up for the Christie’s Foxhunter Steeple Chase on Friday, March 13. We are very grateful to the Racing Department at the BHA for their help with this issue.”