Take me to Cheltenham this autumn – Two early season meetings you cannot afford to miss
We take a closer look at two massive meetings at Cheltenham, the Showcase meeting and the November Meeting, and show you how you can get tickets.
Football has Wembley. Cricket has Lords. Formula one has Silverstone, and horse racing has Cheltenham. Prestbury Park racecourse has become synonymous with National Hunt racing during it’s long, illustrious history and the Cheltenham Festival, staged during the middle week of March, is considered by many to be the flagship event in the sport.
However, you don’t have to wait until March to take your seat in the stands at Prestbury Park. During the jumps season, meetings are regularly staged at the Gloucestershire venue and two major events loom large on the horse racing horizon – the Showcase Meeting and the November Meeting.
First up is the Showcase Meeting, a fantastic two-day fixture taking place at the end of October. Although there are no Graded or Listed prizes on offer on either the Friday or the Saturday, each day often produces winners of big races later in the campaign, even throwing up a clue or two for that season’s Cheltenham Festival.
The most notable race of last year’s Showcase Meeting turned out to be the Maiden Hurdle on day one, where Thomas Darby got the better of Elixir De Nutz with a flying finish up Cleeve Hill. Trainer Colin Tizzard’s runner-up returned to Cheltenham to win the Sharps Novices’ Hurdle in November, before scoring in the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at the start of the New Year. Thomas Darby built on his Showcase Meeting triumph with a fine showing in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, running on well for second behind the imperious winner, Klassical Dream.
Fan’s favorite, Lil Rockerfeller was amongst the winners at last year’s Showcase Meeting when winning a novice’s chase. Paul Nicholls’ Modus and Rebecca Curtis’ Relentless Dreamer, who claimed the two biggest prize pots of the week on Saturday, were also amongst the winners and there were several runners who returning to Prestbury Park the following month, to take part in the November Meeting.
Like the Showcase Meeting, Cheltenham’s most important fixture in November takes place over a number of days. It’s the Saturday, known as BetVictor Gold Cup day, where most punters crave to be in attendance and tickets for the Saturday of the November Meeting sell out fast!
Gary Moore and his team were the ones celebrating after last year’s BetVictor Gold Cup, as Baron Alco joined Gay Trip and Half Free on the famous trophy. Second, 12 months ago was Frodon and Bryony Frost, but the pair went one better at the Cheltenham Festival in March, sealing an unforgettable victory in the Ryanair Chase.
A field of talented three-year-olds will get Saturday’s festivities off to a flyer in the JCB Triumph Trial Hurdle. As the name suggests, this Grade Two has produced many winners who go on to star in the Grade One at the Festival in March, with Defi Du Seuil the most recent youngster to do the Prestbury Juvenile, Triumph Hurdle double.
Before we reach the feature handicap of the day, there’s an equally captivating three-and-a-half mile staying handicap to enjoy. There was barely a dry eye in the house at the end of last season’s BetVictor Handicap Chase as former Gold Cup winner, Coneygree was given an emotional reception by the Prestbury Park faithful, following a gallant third-place finish behind Rock The Kasbah.
A day out at Cheltenham racecourse is an occasion you’ll never forget. Both the Showcase Meeting and the November Meeting will provide their usual mix of thrills, spill, ups and downs in 2019/20, so make sure you get your ticket and books your spots in the stands before it’s too late!