The Byrne Group Plate takes place on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival and is one of the larger handicap chase races at the festival, with an average of circa 20 plus runners going to post.
The race is 61 years old, so is steeped in tradition and has been won multiple times in recent years by the likes of David Pipe, Nicky Henderson and Venetia Williams.
If we take a look back to 1951, the inaugral running of the race was done so under the name of The Mildmay of Flete Handicap Chase. The 2nd Baron Mildmay of Fleet was a three times winning amateur jockey at the Cheltenham Festival and was held in high regard, hence the organisers named the race after him.
Due to flooding, the 1951 race was actually contested in April rather than March, however since 1952 the race has always taken place during the third month of the year.
Everybody’s favourite newspaper, The Racing Post, sponsored the 2006 – 2008 renewals and the 2009 renewal was entitled the Freddie Williams Festival Plate.
Freddie Williams, nicknamed Fredie “Fearless” Williams was a bit of a face in the bookmaking world in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. He was a Scottish businessmen who also owned a number of retail bookmaking outlets in the UK and had a reputation with the Cheltenham faithful of laying almost any bet, hence his nickname “Fearless”.
Freddie passed away in 2008 and the 2009 Festival Plate was run in his name at a track where he was widely revered. A nice touch by the organisers and a good thing for friends and family of Freddie Williams to see the race run in his honour shortly after his passing.
From 2010 onwards the Byrne Group have sponsored the race. The Byrne Group are a PLC based in the UK who offer project management and construction services.
- The Byrne Group Plate is classified as a class 1, grade 3 National Hunt Chase Handicap Race.
- The race will be contested at a start time of 16:00 on day three of the Cheltenham Festival.
- The race is open to horses aged five years old and above.
- The race is run over 2 miles and 5 furlongs.
- There are seventeen fences to be jumped in the race.
- The purse in 2012 was circa £74k, with first place receiving just under £43k.k