Cirencester-based St. James’s Place Wealth Management will be promoted at The Festival through the St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Steeple Chase. First contested in 1904, the St. James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase takes place on the fourth and final day of The Festival (Friday, 19 March in 2021).
The extended three and a quarter mile chase was previously run as the St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase and the updated race title is intended to strengthen the race’s identity as being a fundamental part of The Festival, while respecting its rich heritage as one of the leading hunter chases in the sport.
The St. James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase is unique in being the only race at The Festival open to trainers who are not full-time professionals. To secure a place in the field, previously race conditions required horses to have either finished in the first two in a hunters’ chase on two occasions or won two open point-to-point races, or one of each, within the previous two-and-a-half years. A condition has been added for this year only as a result of the pandemic to allow horses who finish in the first four on two occasions in a hunters’ chase between 20th January – 1st March 2021 to qualify.
Point-to-pointing on both sides of the Irish Sea plays a vital and complimentary role to racing under rules, often acting as a springboard for horses and jockeys to go on to achieve great success in front of a larger audience at the racecourse. The 2003 winner Kingscliff was a point-to-point graduate who went on to achieve G1 success in the inaugural running of the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park in 2005.
Further back in time, perhaps the greatest ever winner of the contest was Spartan Missile in 1979, a point-to-point graduate who was owned, trained, ridden and bred by John Thorne. Spartan Missile famously went on to finish a gallant second behind Aldaniti and Bob Champion in the 1981 Grand National at Aintree. The 1981 hero and fellow point-to-point graduate Grittar actually went one better at Aintree, going on to success in the Grand National of 1982.
Many famous amateur jockeys feature on the race’s roll of honour, including Lord Oaksey, Gay Kindersley, Ted Walsh and Nina Carberry. There are also numerous examples of winning riders going on to forge highly successful careers as professionals. Two recent examples are Sam Twiston-Davies and Bryony Frost.
Ian Renton, Regional Managing Director for The Jockey Club, said: “The Jockey Club is extremely grateful to St. James’s Place for extending its generous sponsorship at The Festival. All of us at Cheltenham look forward to working with St. James’s Place for the next five seasons.”
Ian Gascoigne, Managing Director for St. James’s Place Wealth Management, added: “We have been a proud sponsor at Cheltenham Racecourse for a number of years and are delighted to continue our support of a flagship event in our local community. Cheltenham Festival provides the opportunity to reach a large audience and the team continuously offer St. James’s Place a fantastic experience.”