We are delighted to announce that Glenfarclas has renewed its backing for the Cross Country races at the Home of Jump Racing, Cheltenham Racecourse, for a further three years.
Glenfarclas, the family-owned producer of award-winning Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky, has become synonymous with the three races over Cheltenham’s unique Cross Country Course since first sponsoring them in 2008. This season’s Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeplechases will take place during The November Meeting (Friday, November 17), The International (Friday, December 15) and The Festival 2018 (Wednesday, March 14).
All three races are run over three miles and six furlongs, with those at The November Meeting and The International run as handicaps ahead of the £65,000 Glenfarclas Chase at The Festival, which became a conditions race in 2016. As part of its continued support, Ballindalloch-based Glenfarclas has provided 11 hogshead casks, previously used to mature Glenfarclas whisky for more than 25 years, which have been incorporated into a fence on the Cross Country Course.
John Grant, the Glenfarclas chairman, travels to a family-run Bodega in Spain and chooses the finest European oak casks that have been used for the maturation of Oloroso sherry to ship back to the Highlands.The 11 casks are positioned on the landing side of the Glenfarclas Casks fence, which is jumped twice during the Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeplechases (no seven & 30).
Grant said: “Glenfarclas is delighted to extend its support to Cross Country racing at Cheltenham for another three years. Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the Glenfarclas sponsorship at Cheltenham, during which time Cross Country racing has gone from strength to strength and provided racegoers with lots of very exciting racing.”
Simon Claisse, Regional Head of Racing, South West & Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham, commented: “The long-term sponsorship of Cross Country racing by Glenfarclas is much appreciated by everyone at Cheltenham Racecourse. As preparations continue for Cheltenham’s first Cross Country race of the season on November 17 at The November Meeting, the Glenfarclas Casks fence looks superb and is a fitting landmark to Glenfarclas’ decade of sponsorship.”
Carey Weeks, Regional Head of Partnerships, Cheltenham & the South West, The Jockey Club, added: “We are thrilled that Glenfarclas has extended its sponsorship at the Home of Jump Racing for another three years. The Glenfarclas brand is synonymous with Cross Country racing at Cheltenham and we are delighted that the relationship will continue to flourish.”
The Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeplechases are not duplicated anywhere else in the UK, with a twisting and turning course of banks, ditches and rails. Cross Country racing was introduced to Cheltenham in 1995 with the advent of Sunday racing. The Glenfarclas races at The International and The Festival form part of a European-wide initiative, The Crystal Cup European Cross Country Challenge, which was developed in 2010 and also takes in Cross Country action in France, Belgium, Ireland, Italy and the Czech Republic.
Recent stars of Cross Country racing at Cheltenham have included Garde Champetre, who won six times over the course between 2008 and 2011 including twice at The Festival, and Balthazar King, who captured the Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeplechase at The Festival in both 2012 and 2014, as well as enjoying two other successes over the unique course. Cause Of Causes joined a select group earlier this year when capturing the Glenfarclas Steeplechase in March, becoming only the fourth horse to win three different races at The Festival in consecutive years, following on from his victories in the National Hunt Chase in 2015 and the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase in 2016. The Gordon Elliott-trained chaser followed up his 2017 success at The Festival by finishing second in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree in April.
Irish-based Enda Bolger is the most successful trainer in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeplechase at The Festival thanks to Spot Thedifference (2005), Heads Onthe Ground (2007), Garde Champetre (2008 & 2009) and Josies Orders (2016). The leading owner in the race is J P McManus, who owned all five of Bolger’s victors plus the 2017 winner Cause Of Causes. Amateur rider Nina Carberry has the best record of a jockey in the race with four wins – Heads Onthe Ground (2007), Garde Champetre (2008 & 2009) and Josies Orders (2016).