THE Professional Jockeys Association today announced that the 2014 Stobart Lesters ceremony will be held on Monday 22nd December.

The glittering event – horse racing’s own ‘Oscars’ – has traditionally been held in the spring on the eve of Good Friday when there was no racing in Britain.

However, the decision by the British Horseracing Authority to allow fixtures on Good Friday in 2014 has led to the jockeys having to change date.

The delay by eight months means that the next Stobart Lesters – the 24th occasion on which it has been held – will, in effect, celebrate two calendar years, 2013 and 2014.

Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the PJA, said: “The Stobart Lesters is a fantastic occasion because for jockeys there is no greater recognition than that of their peers and the winners treasure their awards.

“We hoped that having introduced racing on Good Friday the BHA might trail a blank day elsewhere in the calendar but that suggestion did not meet with a favourable response, so we had to live with the decision.

“We have since canvassed jockeys to find a new date in the calendar and the preference was to hold the Stobart Lesters on the Monday before Christmas as there is no racing on Tuesday 23rd December.

“Racing that day takes place at Bangor, Kempton and Wolverhampton so with a little help from the BHA and racecourses regards to the race programme and race times it won’t be difficult for people to get to the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, where the event will be held.

“It will be a historically unique occasion with two years being celebrated by jockeys at the same time.  With racing enjoying a short festive break, the 2014 Stobart Lesters will be a wonderful occasion that many hundreds of jockeys and guests will enjoy just before Christmas.”

Andrew Tinkler, Stobart Group’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “The Lesters are a superb celebration of the great achievements of our jockeys, both on the Flat and over Jumps.  The contribution of jockeys to the sport of horse racing is hugely valued and we at Stobart are delighted to play a part in honouring these fine sporting stars and we look forward very much to the 2014 Lesters on Monday 22nd December.”

Tickets to the 2014 Stobart Lesters – which will once again be held at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole – will go on sale in the New Year at www.thepja.co.uk.

For further information, please contact:

Paul Struthers, Chief Executive, or Izzy Desailly, Commercial Manager, at the Professional Jockeys Association, on 01635 778108