The Cheltenham Festival edition this year will garner expanded coverage on ITV Racing, though organisers have also found a new sponsor in WellChild.
The rights holder of the week-long festival, Racecourse Media Group (RMG), normally allows its conventional partner ITV to air five races, as the final two are an integral feature of the subscriber-based Racing TV deal.
Greater public visability
However, RMG has reached an agreement with the free-to-air network to ensure greater public visibility, as it becomes increasingly apparent that this year’s edition of the festival will be the second to be held behind closed doors.
Ian Renton, Regional Managing Director of the Jockey Club said: “We’re really grateful to RMG and ITV for enabling all those who will be enjoying the festival from home to enjoy a sixth race in this one year.”
ITV would fit the races into a regular program running from 1pm to 4.3pm, taking the opening contest to an earlier provisional time each afternoon of 1.20pm. The main event of each day will take place at 3:05pm.
Meanwhile, the distance between each meeting has been shortened from 40 minutes to 35 minutes in order for the races to suit this tight schedule.
New title sponsor
In addition, the festival acquired a new title sponsor in WellChild, a charity based in Cheltenham that specialises in helping disadvantaged families of chronically ill children. WellChild will be added as a title sponsor, the charity be funding both the Gold Cup race and the festival.
This follows the termination, one year early for undisclosed reasons, of the deal with Irish cider brand Magners.
Renton, speaking on the new sponsor, said: “WellChild plays a vital role in our society supporting seriously ill children and young people, and those who care for them.
“Their services have been needed more than ever during the pandemic and we are very proud indeed to help such an important charity amongst our communities, including in Cheltenham.”
Donations during lockdown
During the COVID-19 lockdowns, WellChild donated more than 298,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) products to 1,000 separate needy households, despite experiencing a 60 percent reduction in income.
WellChild Chief Executive Colin Dyer said, adding: “As a national charity with its headquarters in Cheltenham, we are thrilled to have been invited to work with The Jockey Club, particularly around an event as iconic as The Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse.
“This has been a challenging year for our organisation and the families we support, many of whom have felt hidden and isolated more than ever before. However, we have responded at every turn to ensure that families have access to the support and equipment they need to thrive at home.
“This partnership will bring a much-needed boost to our organisation after a challenging period and will help to ensure that we are ready to respond again in 2021 and beyond.”
Meanwhile, as the title sponsor of the Festival Plate Handicap Chase, which will be known as the Paddy Power Plate, as well as the headline sponsor of ITV Racing, Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has been chosen.
Brown Advisory and Merribelle Stable, the former sponsors of The Plate, have been appointed the backers of the RSA Novices’ Chase.