Cheltenham Director Says Festival Will Not Switch Schedule To Saturday
Cheltenham has "ruled out a long-mooted change" to the Festival schedule that would see the meeting finish on a Saturday, according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The trend in recent years has been "to move premier racing fixtures to weekend slots to maximise TV viewing and attendance figures." The the idea of beginning the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday and "climaxing on Saturday has been repeatedly raised of late." Edward Gillespie, who stepped down last year after 32 years at the helm at the track, had previously said that it could happen by '12 or, "more likely, after a long-planned overhaul of the facilities at the Gloucestershire course that will begin this year." However, Cheltenham's new Managing Dir Ian Renton said that he is "firmly wedded to the current schedule," which begins with the Champion Hurdle this Tuesday and builds up to the Gold Cup on Friday. He said that any switch to Saturday "was off the agenda for the foreseeable future" (GUARDIAN, 3/10).