close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
P
Pa
February 25, 2021

Amateurs will sit out Cheltenham Festival

Sports

P
Pa
February 25, 2021

LONDON: Amateur riders will be missing from next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

A ruling was made in January that amateurs would be temporarily prevented from competing under rules because of an ongoing rise in Covid-19 infections in Britain.

The move was made by the racing industry’s Covid-19 steering group, which constantly reviews coronavirus protocols to determine how racing can continue to strengthen its approach.

The group said at the time it had reached its decision because it “is in line with Government restrictions around the definition of elite sport and the associated suspension of grassroots sport”, and it is understood that position remains.

The four-day Festival begins on March 16, and in his road map unveiled on Monday for exiting lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined a date of March 29 for the resumption of grassroots sport.

Three races at the Festival are confined to amateurs – the National Hunt Chase, Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase and the St James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase.

Derek O’Connor has ridden four Cheltenham Festival winners and is the most successful Irish point-to-point rider of all-time.

He said: “I would have hoped to have picked up rides in all the amateur races, and obviously it’s disappointing – but it’s just unfortunate. I suppose the most important thing is the Festival going ahead. If this is a small, little help to getting the Festival to go ahead trouble-free, it’s not a big ask.”