JLT back Cheltenham feature

  • Last Updated: January 9 2014, 15:43 GMT

JLT are the new sponsors of the Grade One two and a half-mile novices' chase at The Cheltenham Festival on St Patrick's Thursday, March 13.

Benefficient: Winning last season's renewal
Benefficient: Winning last season's renewal

First run in 2011 and previously backed by Jewson, the JLT Novices' Chase has been upgraded to Grade One status for the 2014 renewal and carries a prize fund of £120,000.

JLT is no stranger to sponsorship at The Festival, having supported the extended three-mile handicap chase on the opening Tuesday, Champion Day, in 2012 and 2013.

All three renewals of the JLT Novices' Chase so far have gone to Ireland, with Noble Prince successful in 2011, Sir Des Champs taking the 2012 running and Benefficient winning last year.

Sir Des Champs, trained by Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins, is now proven as one of the best chasers of his generation with three Grade One victories and a second place in the 2013 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Tony Martin-trained Benefficient, won a Grade One contest at Leopardstown last month and is prominent in the ante-post market for both the BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase at this year's Festival.

Jonathan Palmer-Brown, Chairman of International Specialty, JLT, said: "JLT is delighted to build on its longstanding relationship with racing and more recently Cheltenham, to now sponsor the JLT Novices' Chase.

"This is a race for rising young stars and has now been recognised with Grade One status. Over the past few years, JLT has grown in size to compete successfully with all the major insurance broking organisations and this race, which is a stepping stone for the champions of the future, exemplifies our own success.

"We are also proud to maintain our association with The Festival at Cheltenham and intend to promote a few races next year for novices on the way to the championship as well."

Ian Renton, Regional Director of the South West for Jockey Club Racecourses, added: "It is great news that JLT will be sponsoring the JLT Novices' Chase on the Thursday of The Festival. As previous sponsors at the event, I'm really glad that they have extended their sponsorship to a Grade One race and that next season they will look to extend that sponsorship to cover some of those races that form The Road to Cheltenham."

"In the three runnings since it was created in 2011, we have seen Sir Des Champs and Benefficient take the honours, both of whom have gone on to win at the highest level.

"This year could see the likes of Oscar Whisky and Wonderful Charm as possible contenders, as well as last year's Festival winner Champagne Fever, so it should be as competitive as ever."

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