Amateur riders barred from competing at Cheltenham Festival 2021

The 2021 Cheltenham Festival looks set to be held without the participation of amateur jockeys this year.

It comes down to the UK government’s restrictions on grassroots sport, which are set to remain in place until March 29.

This year's four-day meeting takes place from March 16-19.

Over the years, amateur riders have competed in the St James's Place Hunters' Chase, National Hunt Chase and Kim Muir Handicap Chase.

The leading riders have also raced against professionals in other races over the week.

Since the latest lockdown began on January 4, grassroots sports have been on hold in the UK and the relaxation of the rules will not come in time for Cheltenham.

Chief executive of the Point-to-Point Authority, Peter Wright, told Nick Luck's Daily Podcast : "Sadly I think we have to accept the Government position and therefore there will be no amateur riding under Rules until then (March 29) unless there is a sudden change of heart by the Government, but I don't believe that's likely.

"I think it's a disappointment, but needs must in these very difficult situations and I'm delighted at least that the Hunters' Chase will be going ahead and our owners and trainers will still get the opportunity of producing their horses for what actually I think looks like a very good renewal."

Wright has informed members of the point-to-point racing community that meetings should restart in the week of March 29, with around 12 weeks of the traditional season left to go.

More to follow…

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