Paul Townend (left) riding Al Boum Photo congratulates Jack Kennedy aboard winner Minella Indo after the 2021 WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup (Image: Getty)

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The Cheltenham Festival could be extended to five days by 2023, with the Gold Cup remaining in its usual Friday position.

Bosses at Jockey Club Racecourses, the owners of Prestbury Park, are considering holding the feature meeting from Tuesday to Saturday.

The new format would include 30 races, up from 28 currently – and keep its feature contest, the Gold Cup, on the same day as it is usually run.

This year's event carried the name of the charity WellChild and was won by Henry de Bromhead's Minella Indo – one of a record 23 winners for Ireland during the week.

A statement from Jockey Club Racecourses to the Daily Telegraph said: “The last time this was discussed in earnest in public, some key stakeholders in our sport expressed their desire for a fifth day.

“We always explore every option to improve the Festival and support British racing, but we have made no decision to extend the length.”

Jack Kennedy celebrates with Minella Indo after winning the 2021 WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup
(Image: PA)

All racecourses have been heavily impacted by the lack of income during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Royal Ascot, which took place last week, has been in a five-day format since 2003.

The meeting was selected to be part of the government's Events Research Programme, with crowds of 12,000 each day on-course.

The Queen was in attendance on Saturday, after missing the fixture in 2020 when it was held behind closed doors.

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It is understood that if the Cheltenham Festival becomes a five-day event like Royal Ascot, six races would be staged each day.

This would mean only two new contests would need to be found for the schedule.

One of those could be a novice handicap chase after the race was taken out this year to bring in the Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase.

The Cheltenham Festival was a three-day fixture until 2005.