Ar Mad: an unlikely runner if the Clarence House moves to CheltenhamPICTURE: Getty Images
Moore upset at likely Clarence House switch
THERE could be echoes of the 2008 Cheltenham Festival next Saturday when jumping's home is set to stage a bumper card boosted to nine races by the addition of the Clarence House Chase, a move that has disappointed the trainer of one of its leading contenders.
Gary Moore said he would be reluctant to run Ar Mad on a track he described as "not fair or conventional", leading to the prospect of Un De Sceaux being sent off an even hotter favourite for the Grade 1 prize.
Ascot's card on Saturday was called off leaving the door open for the BHA to move the Clarence House Chase to Cheltenham.
Cheltenham racegoers are set to be anything but disappointed if the BHA confirms its initial plan to move the Clarence House Chase to a Festival Trials card that had already expanded to eight races with the addition of the cross-country chase lost in November.
However, nine events is still one fewer than the course staged on the Thursday of the 2008 festival, which was lengthened to incorporate ten races owing to the abandonment of racing on the Wednesday.
Moore, far from happy with the intended switch, said: "The BHA rang me this morning and asked if I would like the Clarence House to go to Cheltenham. I definitely wouldn't want that. It's not a fair track or a conventional racecourse. I suggested Sandown the following Saturday.
"If they run the race at Cheltenham I think they might get only two or three runners. I'd say it's unlikely we'd be one of them."
Assuming Cheltenham does take the Clarence House, the fixture would probably begin around noon.
Negotiations were still taking place on Friday evening over whether the Clarence House would be shown live on ITV4, which had already committed to showing five of the meeting's features, including the Betbright Trial Cotswold Chase, due to be headlined by Thistlecrack.
Race would be reopened
Although unable to give Cheltenham the green light, BHA head of media Robin Mounsey said: "It's the BHA’s policy to reschedule cancelled races as soon as possible, in order that they maintain their position in the Pattern, and to provide further breathing space to reschedule the race should future fixtures also be affected by the weather.
"If rescheduled the BHA's policy for rescheduling races would be to reopen the race for new entries."
Also threatened is Sunday's card at Fontwell, whose clerk of the course Ed Arkell said: "We need significant improvement from where we are at the moment."