Rider confirmed for Cheltenham Festival champion It Came To Pass

Riding arrangements have been confirmed for reigning champion It Came To Pass at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.

The 11-year-old will team up with Richie McLernon as he bids for back-to-back successes in the St James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase on March 19.

Trained by Eugene O’Sullivan, the veteran chaser was ridden by his daughter Maxine for a shock 66-1 triumph 12 months ago.

“He’s in good form, never better,” O’Sullivan said.

"Richie McLernon will ride him. He started with me – he’s a family friend and he’s a neighbour.

“He was good enough to ride for me at Cheltenham when I had Trevor Hemmings’ horse there (Arctic Times, sixth in the same race in 2007), and he’s definitely good enough to ride this fella.”

The partnership with McLernon was finalised after amateur riders were banned from riding at the meeting due to Covid-19 restrictions.

It comes down to the UK government’s restrictions on grassroots sport.

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

The leading jockeys from the group have also raced against professionals in other contests over the week.

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