The two day October Jumps Festival at Chepstow Racecourse gets underway on Saturday 8 October, and for many will herald the start of the 2016-17 jumps season in earnest.
The fixture, run as a two-day meeting for the first time in 2015, will see a boost to the overall prize money available across the weekend to £300,000. Feature races include the £50,000 Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) and the £35,000 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2).
A number of equine superstars are due to be on show at the Monmouthshire racecourse, including last season’s leading staying hurdler Thistlecrack. His trainer Colin Tizzard has indicated he will make his steeplechasing debut in the £30,000 Robert Mottram Memorial Novices’ Chase which has previously been won by stablemate Cue Card. In addition, Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls plans to bring hurdlers El Bandit and Mr Mix for the Persian War and Silver Trophy respectively.
On Sunday 9 October, former Champion Chaser and two time Chepstow winner Sire de Grugy is in line to make his seasonal debut whilst the sponsor of the £30,000 Power Panel Electrical Systems Veterans’ Chase, David Fox, plans to run his 2015 Grand National runner up, Saint Are, trained by Tom George.
Along with the equine stars on show, Chepstow will host the annual Jump Legends Race before racing on Saturday, with former top riders Jim Culloty, Graham Bradley, Conor O’Dwyer, Jimmy Frost and Jimmy Duggan (who flies in from the USA for the race), taking part amongst others.
In recognition of the work put in by stable staff over the upcoming season, Totepool and Chepstow Racecourse will once again sponsor free food across both days, and all winning owners will receive a hamper of Welsh food along with other mementoes.
Executive Director of Chepstow Racecourse, Phil Bell, said, “We are delighted with how this meeting has developed as it is now seen by many as the point at which the jumps season truly gets underway.
“The prize money investment will mean that Chepstow can continue to welcome a number of equine stars for their opening run of the season. Last year both Altior and Blaklion used Chepstow to start their respective seasons and went on to victory at the Cheltenham Festival.
“All being well, we can’t wait to see the likes of Thistlecrack and Sire de Grugy over the weekend. Equally, many winners of our feature races, the Silver Trophy and Persian War, have gone on to further glory at big meetings so racing fans have plenty to look out for.”
Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls said, “Chepstow’s October Jumps Festival signifies the start of the winter season and it is a fixture I always look forward to. We have a team prepared for the meeting and also hope to gallop some of our horses before racing.”
In addition to the racing, there will be plenty of entertainment for racegoers, including live music, a countryside market, lurcher racing, falconry and gun dog displays along with the chance to meet a racehorse up close and learn more about their training and welfare.
Tickets start from £22, with hospitality packages also available. For more information, please visit www.chepstow-racecourse.co.uk.