Thanks to WellChild, horses will run for the benefit of children in Cheltenham Festival

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Seriously ill children and their families in the UK will get additional support thanks to the new partnership announced on February 11th by WellChild and The Jockey Club in Cheltenham. The charity, which is the leading national organization helping children and young people living with serious health needs, has taken over the sponsorship of Jump Racing’s flagship event. The sport’s most prestigious race, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, is now officially the Grade 1 2021 WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup, scheduled on Friday, March 19th 2021.

The expectations are that Al Boum Photo, trained by Willie Mullins, will win the race. The French-bred, Irish-trained gelding won both the 2019 and 2020 editions of the Gold Cup. A third victory would make it the fifth horse in history triumph three or more times, after the legendary Best Mate, Arkle, Cottage Rake, and Golden Miller. Unluckily, this exciting competition will only be accessible to the public via ITV’s main channel and its digital platforms. ITV will broadcast the 28 races of the Cheltenham festival between Tuesday 16th and Friday, March 19th. No spectators will be allowed at the racecourse according to government restrictions.

The Jockey Club reported a £ 90million loss in revenue due to the pandemic in 2020. The WellChild charity lost 60% of its projected income too. They had to quickly adapt their services to meet a sudden and urgent demand for help from families having to deliver round-the-clock care to their children alone. More than 100,000 children and young people are living with serious illnesses or exceptional health needs across the UK. Without the type of support WellChild offers, many can spend months or even years in hospital. Meanwhile, those who are at home are constantly challenged by inconsistent or inadequate levels of support.

The two organizations thus met on the grounds of common interest. WellChild takes over the sponsorship from the Irish cider brand Magners, which gave up on a three-year deal to sponsor the Cheltenham Festival and Gold Cup last December, after supporting the race in 2019 and 2020. The prize-money of £468,750 will stay the same with the new sponsor.

“As a national charity with its headquarters in Cheltenham, we are thrilled to have been invited to work with The Jockey Club, particularly around an event as iconic as The Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse.” said Colin Dyer, Chief Executive of WellChild. “This has been a challenging year for our organisation and the families we support, many of whom have felt hidden and isolated more than ever before. This partnership will bring a much-needed boost to our organisation and will help to ensure that we are ready to respond again in 2021 and beyond.”

WellChild has one very special testimonial in Ed Chamberlin, ITV Racing’s Lead Presenter:

“I have been an ambassador for WellChild for nearly ten years. The work they do with seriously ill children is truly remarkable. Like all charities, they have had a brutal year and I’m so thrilled about this partnership. It combines two of the passions in my life: WellChild and the Cheltenham Festival.”