There will be a new race at the Cheltenham Festival next season with the addition of a Mares' Novices' Hurdle to the four day Prestbury Park spectacular schedule. The Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle will be a Grade 2 contest run over a trip of 2m1f and will be placed on the Thursday of the Festival.
It is understood that the new race will replace the Charity Race at Cheltenham as the lucky last on World Hurdle day and as expected, the announcement of the race has been met with mixed reaction. Trainers, bookies and breeders are delighted with the news with the Mares now having a clear path through the season while owners and jockeys will clearly be eager to get their chunk of the £75,000 prize money on offer each year.
There was a mixed reaction on social media with plenty of punters bemoaning the addition of the new race with dilution in quality the main worry. Critics are worried that the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle will suffer as a result with novices now expected to swerve the Grade 1 contest for this new race each season.
Time will tell how successful the new race is but we can expect a decent sized field for the first edition in March and it will be fascinating to follow the Mares through the season over the next few months. The new race also means there are now seven races on each of the four days of the Festival and we will of course have the betting market for the Mares' Novices' Hurdle on the site just as soon as it becomes available.