New sponsor for County Hurdle

Randox Health has extended its backing at Cheltenham by announcing sponsorship of the County Hurdle on the fourth and final day of The Festival in March.

Cheltenham have announced a new Festival sponsor

Randox Health's first involvement in sponsorship of British horseracing happens on Saturday October 22 at Cheltenham, with the two £50,000 feature handicap chases at The Showcase – the Randox Health Handicap Chase and the Randox Handicap Chase.

Earlier in 2016, Randox Health signed a five-year agreement to become title sponsor of the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree from 2017 and was also unveiled as the official healthcare partner of The Jockey Club, which owns both racecourses, joining an esteemed and growing list of Group Partners.

The Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle takes place over nearly two miles and a furlong and eight flights of hurdles on Friday, March 17, 2017, when it is staged as the second race of the day. The company has signed a five-year sponsorship agreement, with an option to renew.

Dr Peter FitzGerald, Founder and Managing Director of Randox Health, said: "We are thrilled to be adding The Cheltenham Festival to our racing portfolio, given that it is a milestone event in the racing calendar.

"Following the announcement of our sponsorship of the Randox Handicap Chase and the Randox Health Handicap Chase at The Showcase, we have received significant interest in what we do here at Randox; in particular our Randox Health Preventive Health Programmes and also our dedicated Equine Health Programme.

"We are fully committed to improving healthcare through early and accurate diagnosis and we are extremely pleased that, as a sponsor of The Cheltenham Festival, we are able to bring our preventive health philosophy to a much wider audience. As Festival goers will appreciate, we all want to live life to the full and looking after our health is key to making the most of our opportunities."

The Jockey Club is striving to raise Randox Health's message of preventive health and wellbeing amongst its members, and to the wider racing audience at all 15 Jockey Club Racecourses.

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Ian Renton, Regional Director, South West Region of Jockey Club Racecourses, commented: "We are delighted that following on from Randox Health's sponsorship today at The Showcase, they are also to sponsor the County Hurdle at The Festival.

"The race is a great platform for them to showcase their brand with ITV coverage and develop the relationship as a partner of The Jockey Club.

"For the past 20 years, the County Hurdle has also been associated with the great Vincent O'Brien, who sent out 23 winners at The Festival between 1948 and 1959.

"Having spotlighted his feats for such a long time, we feel it is appropriate for the race to benefit from all the additional support that a sponsor brings, whilst retaining the County Hurdle title.

"We continue to celebrate Vincent's tremendous achievements as one of only 25 people and horses immortalised in the Cheltenham Hall of Fame."

The County Handicap Hurdle first took place in 1920 and is an intensively competitive contest each year, with more than 20 runners participating ever since 1984.

A maximum field of 26 lined up in 2016 when the winner was Superb Story who gave trainer Dan Skelton and his jockey brother Harry their first Cheltenham Festival victories.

Irish-trained horses have enjoyed plenty of success in the County Handicap Hurdle, with 16 winners since 1953 including seven of the last 10 renewals.

Therefore, it was an appropriate race to be previously named after the late Vincent O'Brien who sent out 23 winners at The Festival between 1948 and 1959. The legendary Irish trainer, who went on to excel on the Flat, retired in 1994 and passed away in 2009.

The 2016 running was the 20th as the Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle. O'Brien continues to be remembered in the Cheltenham Hall of Fame, situated next to the main entrance to the racecourse.

The 25 human and equine inductees in the Hall of Fame, all Cheltenham heroes, are also highlighted in The Princess Royal Grandstand for the first time this season.

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