ST JAMES’S PLACE Wealth Management has renewed its brand sponsorship at Cheltenham Racecourse for a further five years, up to and including The Festival in 2025.
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, March 19.
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 January 20 and March 1 to qualify.
Point-to-pointing on both sides of the Irish Sea plays a vital and complementary 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.
The St. James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase acknowledges jump racing’s grassroots, while also being the source of a number of successes for women at The Festival.
Jockey Caroline Beasley’s success aboard Eliogarty in 1983 was the first victory at The Festival for a female jockey and the contest has been won by female jockeys a further nine times – most recently Maxine O’Sullivan aboard It Came To Pass in 2020.
Former champion Carberry who won the race in 2015 and 2016 with companion, On The Fringe, said: “I was thrilled to win it twice – it’s a special race, an amateur’s gold cup which holds a lot of fond memories for me.
“I really like the name St. James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase – it reinforces the race’s connection with the Home of Jump Racing whilst also keeping its tradition as one of the sport’s most iconic Hunter Chases.”