This year’s edition of the Cheltenham Festival will garner increased coverage on ITV Racing, whilst organisers have also found a new sponsor in WellChild.
Racecourse Media Group – the rights holder to the week-long festival – usually allows its mainstream partner ITV to broadcast five races, as the final two are an important part of the contract with subscriber-based Racing TV.
However, as it becomes increasingly clear that this year’s edition of the festival will be the second to be held behind closed doors, RMG has reached an agreement with the free-to-air network to ensure greater audience exposure.
“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,” said Ian Renton, Regional Managing Director of the Jockey Club.
ITV will fit the races into a daily programme running from 1PM to 4:30PM, with each afternoon’s opening contest being brought forward to a provisional time of !.20PM. Each day’s main event will take place at 3:05PM.
Meanwhile, in order for the races to fit this tight schedule, the gap between each meeting has been reduced from 40 minutes to 35 minutes.
Additionally, the festival has gained a new title sponsor in WellChild, a Cheltenham-based charity specialising in supporting vulnerable families with severely ill children. The charity will sponsor both the festival and the Gold Cup race.
This follows the termination of the contract with Irish cider brand Magners one year early for unspecified reasons.
Commenting on the new sponsor, Renton 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.”
WellChild has donated over 298,000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items to 1,000 different vulnerable households during the COVID-19 lockdowns, despite suffering a 60% loss in income.
Colin Dyer, Chief Executive of WellChild, added: “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, Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has been chosen as the title sponsor of the Festival Plate Handicap Chase, which will be branded as the Paddy Power Plate, as well as the headline sponsor of ITV Racing.
The Plate’s former sponsors Brown Advisory and Merribelle Stable have been named the backers of the RSA Novices’ Chase.