Cheltenham and Craven feast for viewers

It will be a week to keep the psychologists in business, for the climax and maturity of the National Hunt season is about to coincide with the effective birth of the Flat campaign. Cheltenham announced yesterday that it is to reschedule the Festival for 17, 18 and 19 April, dates which will lock horns with the first significant gathering of the summer version of the sport, Newmarket's Craven meeting.

It will be a week to keep the psychologists in business, for the climax and maturity of the National Hunt season is about to coincide with the effective birth of the Flat campaign. Cheltenham announced yesterday that it is to reschedule the Festival for 17, 18 and 19 April, dates which will lock horns with the first significant gathering of the summer version of the sport, Newmarket's Craven meeting.

If it is not an ideal arrangement for racing's administrators, it is a match made in heaven for television viewers. Even now holiday slips and sick notes are being prepared in anticipation of a week glued to the sofa. Newmarket have already moved their offerings forward in an effort to fit snugly with their brethren across country. Only foot-and-mouth disease, which has caused this scurried rearrangement to the calendar, can now deny an unprecedented week of racing. It remains, though, a considerable only.

Cheltenham confirmed that existing Festival tickets will be valid for the rearranged meeting. Contrary to last Thursday's muddled presentation to the media, the Prestbury Park team have decided to race during the week after Easter. The following week had been the original chosen date for the revised meeting, out of the holiday season and further away from the Grand National. That period, however, coincided with the Punchestown Festival which Cheltenham may have believed was going to be cancelled. If that is to happen, it will not be announced for some time yet.

Cheltenham will now attempt to race during the week they originally said was impractical because it meant engaging staff and police when they were already stretched because of Easter. "We at Cheltenham are only too conscious of the continuing foot-and-mouth crisis and the effect this is having on so many of our customers," Edward Gillespie, the course's managing director, said yesterday. "However, there is a balance to be struck.

"We are convinced that we can safely conduct a successful race meeting and that, so long as racing continues and the racecourse remains outside an infected area, then we should make every effort to hold the meeting.

"We have set dates so that the preparation of the horses and all the arrangements for the meeting can resume." There will now be a simple demarcation for those in the winter and summer camps. On the days Cheltenham offers the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and Gold Cup, Newmarket will respond with the Nell Gwyn Stakes, Free Handicap and Craven Stakes. As soon as those salvos are over, Newbury will weigh in on the Saturday with the Fred Darling and Greenham Stakes.

If, as seems hugely possible, Punchestown is called off the following week, then racing will have put all its eggs in one basket, though maybe this is not the time for farming allusions.

The laurels which remain have been laid at the feet of the great god television by a fledgling Newmarket executive keen to keep in tune with the most powerful component of the media. "It's been a possibility for quite a few days that Cheltenham might go for the same days and the key to it for us was securing the television coverage," Lisa Hancock, the managing director at Headquarters, said. "We have got coverage of all the races that were scheduled to be shown. We've managed to do this by bringing the start time forward to 1.15 from 2.05 on each day.

Channel 4 will screen three races from Newmarket and four from Cheltenham each day. Those who say they are ambivalent about the merits of Flat and jumps racing will now have their favour examined. "The crowds might be affected a little, but our meeting is geared to the Flat racing purist," Hancock said. "It's always popular as it's the first big meeting of the new season. We're not in a heavily-stocked area. But we are taking all necessary precautions. It's full steam ahead for our meeting."

It is not an assertion made as loudly in other racing nations as it was last week. On Tuesday came the news that foot-and-mouth had spread to mainland Europe and, yesterday, we were told that Dubai, which hosts the World Cup a week on Saturday, was monitoring eight cases in the United Arab Emirates.

Their response was a lesson in cool. "This is natural," the agriculture minister said. "It is not strange to have limited and contained cases."

HOW THE FESTIVAL FITS INTO THE CALENDAR

MONDAY 16 APRIL

Carlisle, Chepstow, Fakenham, Hereford, Huntingdon, Kempton, Market Rasen, Newcastle, Nottingham, Plumpton, Towcester, Uttoxeter, Warwick, Wetherby, Wincanton

TUESDAY 17 APRIL

Cheltenham (Champion Hurdle), Newmarket (Nell Gwyn Stakes), Southwell, Uttoxeter

WEDNESDAY 18 APRIL

Cheltenham (Queen Mother Champion Chase), Newmarket (Free Handicap), Beverley

THURSDAY 19 APRIL

Cheltenham (Gold Cup), Newmarket (Craven Stakes), Ripon

FRIDAY 20 APRIL

Newbury, Ayr, Thirsk

SATURDAY 21 APRIL

Ayr (Scottish National), Bangor, Newbury (Greenham Stakes), Stratford, Thirsk, Wolverhampton

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Direct Mail Machine Operative

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an i...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Day In a Page

Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa corruption: The officials are caught in the web of US legal imperialism - where double standards don't get in the way

Caught in the web of legal imperialism

The Fifa officials ensnared by America's extraterritorial authority are only the latest examples of this fearsome power, says Rupert Cornwell
Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert