Greatwood sponsorship at Cheltenham comes to an end

Detroit City - spectacular Greatwood Hurdle winner

Cheltenham racecourse is on the lookout for a new sponsor for one of its main early season hurdle races. The Greatwood Hurdle is no more, as the charity that seeks to rehabilitate retired racehorses announced the end of an 11-year sponsorship of the race.

The news came too late for Cheltenham not to include the Greatwood Hurdle as the highlight of racing on the Sunday of November’s Open meeting in its publicity brochure which came out last week. With just eight weeks to go before the race takes place, it may be that the race goes unsponsored this year, with the course putting up the prize money itself.

Brampour, trained by Paul Nicholls, and ridden by Harry Derham, will go down as the last winner of the race, which also included Champion Hurdle winner Rooster Booster in its alumni. Perhaps the most outstanding performance in the race came in 2006, when Detroit City followed up a win at Newmarket in the Cesarewitch by carrying top weight and making all the running at Cheltenham. He came home 14 lengths ahead of the rest, a run which the Racing Post described as “a stunning performance.”

Nigel Bunter, who owns the Barbury Castle Estate, home to Alan King’s stable, has put up the money on behalf of Greatwood. Helen Yeadon, co-founder of the charity, said, “There’s no doubt this valuable televised race and associated publicity has had a huge impact on the profile of our work and enabled us to help many more horses and children than would otherwise have been the case.

Now it’s time for another organisation to take over the race, which in its time has been known as the Whitbread’s White Label, the Murphy’s, and the Direct Answers. In 2001, the year that marked the start of Bunter’s connection with the race, it was run as the Rehabilitation of Racehorses Handicap Hurdle, before assuming the Greatwood name two years later.

I like the idea suggested in an email to today’s Racing Post to call the race The Lord Oaksey Injured Jockeys’ Fund Memorial Hurdle. After injured racehorses, why not injured jockeys?