Richest-ever New Year's Day at Cheltenham starts 2018

Cheltenham Racecourse is all set to welcome in another year with the richest-ever programme on New Year's Day, Monday, January 1.

For 2018, the seven-race programme will headline £260,000 in prize money - an increase of £48,000 (23 per cent) on the £212,000 offered 12 months before.

The most valuable race of the day is the G3 BetBright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase, which is now worth £75,000 (up 25 per cent compared to £60,000 in 2017), while the G2 Dorman Engineering Relkeel Hurdle has also received a 25 per cent increase in value to £50,000 (£10,000).

Last season saw jockey Lizzie Kelly land the Dorman Engineering Relkeel Hurdle on Agrapart, trained by her stepfather Nick Williams, while past winners of the BetBright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase include Cheltenham specialist Village Vic (2016) and Splash Of Ginge (2015), who went on to land this season's G3 BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on November 18.

The other five races on New Year's Day are the £35,000 (+£3,000) G2 BetBright Dipper Novices' Chase, the £25,000 (+£5,000) Listed Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle, the Listed £25,000 (+£5,000) EBF Stallions & Cheltenham Pony Club Bumper, the £25,000 (+£5,000) Watch Live Racing on Handicap Chase and the £25,000 (+£5,000) BetBright Casino Handicap Hurdle.

Simon Claisse, Regional Head of Racing, Jockey Club Racecourses South West & Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham, commented: "With the transfer of the Dorman Engineering Relkeel Hurdle from The International in 2016, New Year's Day has developed into a high-class day of Jump racing which offers five Graded and Listed contests, plus two very competitive handicaps.

"We are proud therefore to offer a 23 per cent increase in values for New Year's Day in 2018, meaning that the prize money now totals £260,000.

"There is no race worth less than £25,000 and the New Year will begin with an excellent day of action at the Home of Jump Racing.

"We look forward to welcoming another big holiday crowd on New Year's Day, when the gates will open at 10.30am with a first race at 12.15pm."