Robbie Walsh wants to extend the Cheltenham Festival to five days

Walsh won 59 times at the Cheltenham Festival before retiring last year

Racing legend Robbie Walsh says he wants to extend the Cheltenham Festival from four days to five days.

The meeting’s leading jockey ever thinks a Monday-Friday match is going to work out fine.

“I think Cheltenham in the middle of the week makes it stand out sportingly and that’s what makes it so cool,” said the retired rider.

Cheltenham decided to remove the junior handicap hunt on the list in favor of hunting new mares.

That remains 28 races over four days in the meeting, which was extended from three days in 2005 and takes place from Tuesday to Friday in the third week of March.

“I probably would have picked five cards out of six races and found two more,” Walsh said.

“I will start the festival on Monday and conclude on Friday.”

The new competition, which spans two and a half miles, will take place on Gold Cup day — called the Lady Buddy Power Maris Class Two Hurdles — with the rookie pursuit moving to the Empire Cup’s Sandown meet.

Rather than adding to the racing total, Cheltenham officials chose to replace an existing competition.

Despite speculation that this might happen, the course says it has no immediate plans to extend the meeting.

Opponents of an extra day fear that it could impair the quality of the meeting, but Walsh says it can be achieved successfully.

“It’s a great place and a great meeting,” said the jockey who was among the multiple winners there Couto Star and Hurricane Fly.

“There is always a part of me that is dedicated to the handicap-ranked races and I believe in the championship meeting there should be as many seeded events as possible. That is what sets the standard.

“The obstacle for mares in Cheltenham over time has been a great addition and over time I think it will be chasing mares.”

Walsh is not worried that an extra day would increase the chance of overtaking the rider in the winners’ tally.

“Every record is made to be broken,” Walsh told BBC Sport. “One day someone will ride more winners than me at Cheltenham. I’ve only done what I can do in my generation.”

Walsh retired in May 2019 in Punchestown after secretly falling in the head at Cheltenham several weeks earlier, writing his name and number of winners in a corner of the weighing room.

“I wrote it under the stake, and came out on Friday evening. It shows how many people are looking at the wall in Cheltenham because no one has noticed,” he said.

“I knew I would never return as a knight.”

Cheltenham schedule changes

Tuesday – Event Boodles Hurdles (was a Wednesday)

Wednesday – Annual Great Johnny Henderson Hunt (it was Friday)

Friday – The Hunt for Mrs. Buddy Power Maris (NEW)

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