Wednesday, February 5, 2020 – Cheltenham announces today two sponsorship changes on day one of The Festival™ presented by Magners, Tuesday, 10 March.
The G1 Mares’ Hurdle will now be supported by Close Brothers, the leading UK merchant banking group. Close Brothers’ involvement with The Festival began in 2016, when it took on the sponsorship of the novices’ handicap chase on day one. Close Brothers’ are also a Group wide partner of The Jockey Club and Sir A P McCoy is the company’s brand ambassador.
The £120,000 G1 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (4.10pm) was introduced to The Festival in 2008 and has been dominated by trainer Willie Mullins, who has landed nine of the 12 runnings to date. Six of Mullins’ victories were provided by the extraordinary Quevega, who created history by winning the contest every year between 2009 and 2014.
With Close Brothers transferring its support to the Mares’ Hurdle, the novices handicap chase will now be sponsored by land and property company Northern Trust Co Ltd.
Introduced to the race programme when The Festival extended to four days in 2005, the £70,000 Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase takes place over two and a half miles and is the penultimate contest on day one (4.50pm). Always a very competitive contest that often attracts a maximum field (20 runners), the Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase went to subsequent G1 winner A Plus Tard in 2019 for owner Cheveley Park Stud, trainer Henry de Bromhead and jockey Rachael Blackmore.
Carey Weeks, regional head of partnerships for Jockey Club Racecourses South West, said: “Cheltenham is extremely grateful for the ongoing support from Close Brothers, which is now in its fifth year of partnership at The Festival.
“It seems very appropriate that the name of such a dedicated Group Partner is now associated with one of the G1 highlights at the Home of Jump Racing.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Northern Trust as the new sponsor of the novices’ handicap chase on day one of The Festival.
“Northern Trust will have its name attached to what is always one of the most hotly contested contests of the four days and one that gets a lot of people talking in the countdown to The Festival.”