Racing: Independent to sponsor Arkle

Barry Brennan, the Group Marketing Director of Independent Newspapers Ireland and the jockey Norman Williamson yesterday announce the backing by the Irish Independent of the Arkle Challenge Trophy
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THE IRISH INDEPENDENT, part of the Independent Newspapers Group, which owns The Independent and The Independent On Sunday, is to sponsor the Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase at the National Hunt Festival at Cheltenham. The Irish Independent, whose sponsorship agreement is for the next three years, take over from Guinness, who have backed the race since 1994.

The Arkle Trophy, named after the greatest steeplechaser of all time, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1964, 1965 and 1966, is the two-mile novice chasers' championship. The race has a great tradition and previous winners include Alverton (in 1978), who went on to win the Gold Cup the following year, Remittance Man (1991) and Klairon Davis (1995), who subsequently won the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and Flagship Uberalles (1999), favourite for next March's Champion Chase.

Next year's renewal of the race - along with the Champion Hurdle, one of the highlights of the opening day of the Festival - will be staged on 14 March and will carry total prize-money of pounds 115,000.

Barry Brennan, Group Marketing Director of Independent Newspapers Ireland, said: "We regard coverage of the Cheltenham Festival as a key part of our service and this sponsorship, together with our support for various Irish meetings, enables us to copperfasten our long association with racing."