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Nicky Henderson has welcomed the introduction of a new Grade Two mares’ chase at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.
The British Horseracing Authority announced on Monday that a two-and-a-half-mile event will be added to the meeting, replacing an existing race which has yet to be decided.
The Grade One OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and the Grade Two Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle are already run at the Festival and Henderson believes the addition of a chase will give owners further incentive to race their mares.
He said: “I am delighted to hear of the introduction of a mares’ steeplechase to the Festival order of running.
“The encouragement that has been given to racing jump mares has worked incredibly well, and with the two mares’ hurdle races at the Festival being so popular, it is a great time to introduce a mares’ chase.
“There are undoubtedly more and more high class mares coming through the system and going chasing, and this would obviously be further encouragement for owners and particularly owner/breeders to race their good mares over fences.”
Ian Renton, regional director, Cheltenham & The South West, The Jockey Club, added: “I hope that by providing time for trainers, owners and breeders to consider if they have a mare suitable this will allow for the development of top-class equine athletes for the new race.
“Given the need to replace an existing race at the Festival in 2021 in order to stage the mares’ chase, I am sure there will be much debate as to which one this should be.”