Superb Story: won the 2016 Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Tony McFadden 1:09PM 22 OCT 2016
LEGENDARY trainer Vincent O’Brien will no longer have a race named after him at the Cheltenham Festival after Grand National backers Randox Health took over sponsorship of the County Hurdle.
The race, which has been run as the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle since 1995, will now be contested under the banner of the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle for the next five years. Track officials say they will continue to celebrate O’Brien’s “tremendous achievements”.
This represents a first step into race sponsorship at the festival for the healthcare company that has backed two £50,000 handicap chases on Saturday’s card at the Cheltenham Showcase meeting, and whose name will be attached to the Grand National for a five-year term.
It has yet to be confirmed whether there will be an injection of prize-money in the County Hurdle on the back of the switch to a commercial sponsor.
‘We continue to celebrate Vincent’
Ian Renton, regional director, south west region of Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “We are delighted that following on from Randox Health’s sponsorship at the Showcase, they are also to sponsor the County Hurdle at the festival.
“For the past 20 years, the County Hurdle has also been associated with the great Vincent O’Brien, who sent out 23 winners at the festival between 1948 and 1959.
“Having spotlighted his feats for such a long time, we feel it is appropriate for the race to benefit from all the additional support that a sponsor brings, whilst retaining the County Hurdle title.
“We continue to celebrate Vincent’s tremendous achievements as one of only 25 people and horses immortalised in the Cheltenham Hall of Fame.”
Randox Health has also appointed 20-time champion jockey Sir Anthony McCoy as a brand ambassador.
McCoy said: “I always try and enjoy life to the full, and staying healthy is key to that. You’re happiest when you’re healthy, and that’s why I’m delighted to be an ambassador for Randox Health.”