John Francome honoured with renaming of Grade 2 novices’ chase on Ladbrokes Trophy Day

Newbury Racecourse announced today (Sunday 30 July) that the G2 novices’ chase run over almost three miles on Ladbrokes Trophy Day, Saturday, December 2, 2017, has had its title changed to honour John Francome MBE.

The race, which started its life at Worcester in 1990, moved to Newbury in 2000 and has been won in the past two years by star chasers trained by Colin Tizzard, Thistlecrack (2016) and Native River (2015).

As a Pattern race, the race has to retain a permanent title or ‘handle’. The existing handle is ‘Worcester’, but given that Newbury has hosted the race for 16 years, the BHA’s Jump Pattern Committee has kindly agreed to allow the handle to be changed to ‘John Francome’, thereby allowing the legendary Jump jockey, broadcaster, novelist, charity supporter and entrepreneur to have his name permanently linked to a race for the first time.

The race will therefore be run as the Ladbrokes John Francome Novices’ Chase from 2017, in line with the leading bookmaker’s sponsorship of Newbury’s high-profile two-day meeting, now known as the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival following the sponsorship deal announced in January this year.

Andy Clifton, Head of Communications at Newbury Racecourse, commented: “The word legend is overused these days, but it almost seems inadequate when one thinks about the positive impact that John Francome has had on the sport of horseracing over many years, in lots of different ways.

“As someone who has lived in the area his entire life and had so many successes as a jockey at Newbury, we are thrilled to be able to name a race after him at his local track on our biggest day of Jump racing.”

Mike Dillon, PR Director at Ladbrokes, added: “This is a thoroughly deserved and appropriate accolade for one of the greats of the sport.

“Everyone has their own favourite ‘Francome moment’, but for me the sportsmanship he displayed in 1981/82 when he stopped riding towards the end of the season having drawn level with Peter Scudamore so that they shared the Champion Jockey title sums up the man perfectly.”

Commenting on the news that his name will be permanently linked with a race on Ladbrokes Trophy Day, John Francome, who won two Hennessy Gold Cups at the course on Brown Chamberlin (1983) and Burrough Hill Lad (1984), said: “Newbury is not only my local track, it is also my favourite and I am honoured to have a race named after me, especially one which has produced such outstanding winners for the past two years.

“You normally have to die before anything like this happens, so I hope they don’t know something more than I do and that I am here to see the next winner!”

The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival takes place on Friday, December 1 and Saturday, December 2, with total prize money over the two days amounting to a record £700,000 and the feature Ladbrokes Trophy worth £250,000.

Ladbrokes sponsor 13 of the 14 races over the two days, with the only exception being the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Handicap Chase on the Saturday, which will continue to be supported by the friends of Sir Peter.