Cheltenham has announced a number of changes to the forthcoming season at Prestbury Park, including a gap of 40 minutes between races at the Festival in March.

Officials have been granted permission by the British Horseracing Authority to extend the break between races in March from 35 minutes to ease pressure on those working with the horses to get them into the pre-parade ring in plenty of time, as well as to allow racegoers more time between races.

Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse said: "We are pleased that we have been able to work with partners such as Channel 4 in order to be able to introduce a 40-minute gap between all races at the Festival. This will allow those that are involved in the preparation of horses more time to get them to the pre-parade ring and parade ring in sufficient time for racegoers to see them.

"The decision has also been taken to provide our racegoers with more time to use our facilities, including bars and toilets, between races. A full crowd here at Cheltenham, which is nearly 70,000 people, can see a lot of pressure being put on facilities and it is expected that an additional five minutes between races will have a significant impact on our customers' experience."

The new addition to the Festival programme, the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle, has been registered as the Dawn Run Novices' Hurdle in memory of the only horse to win both the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup.

The conditions of qualification for the Pertemps Final have been tweaked, with horses needing to finish in the first six of one of the 17 qualifiers, while the Glenfarclass Cross-Country Chase at the Festival will now be a conditions race rather than a handicap.

On the cross-country races, Claisse said: "We have adjusted the conditions of the three cross-country chases run during the season.

"The race at the Festival has changed from a handicap to a conditions event and will be run off level weights. The race was introduced in 2005 and we have seen some magnificent renewals over the years, more recently with Balthazar King, who is being aimed at the race again next year, and it seems fitting that it should be a level weights race along with many others on the card over the four days.

"Historically, the November race had been a conditions event and the December race a handicap, but we have switched those two around."

The Relkeel Hurdle has been moved from the International meeting in December to New Year's Day.