The November Meeting at Cheltenham is one of the most popular events in the racing calendar. But, since the meeting inauguration in 2000, the event has been referred to as the Cheltenham Open, only changing its name to the November Meeting in time for the start of 2017 event.
The change that’s been made has been for a pretty simple reason in that it clashed with The Open that’ hosted within golf each year. It was reported that the head guys at Cheltenham and representatives with the R and A (Royal and Ancient), golfs governing body, agreed that a name change would be better for all parties involved and so, the November Meeting was born.
Cheltenham November Meeting Major Races
The summer months undoubtedly have their benefits: sunshine, the start of the new football season, and more quality flat racing action than you shake a stick at. For fans of the jumping game though, those summer months can seem the longest of all. For many, the end of that long wait for top class jumping action is signalled by the first big festival of the season at the home of National Hunt Racing, Cheltenham racecourse.
It is across these three days in November – always held over a fan friendly Friday to Sunday – that the season really begins to take shape. Many of the potential stars of the year will make their reappearance here, with the meeting featuring a number of early trials for the biggest festival of them all back here in March. Let’s take a look at what each of the three days has in store.
|Day||Race||Grade / Length||Last Winner|
|Friday||Ballymore (Hyde) Novices' Hurdle||Grade 2 / 2m 5f||Does He Know (2020)|
|Saturday||Paddy Power Gold Cup||Grade 3 / 2m 4f||Coole Cody (2020)|
|Saturday||Triumph Hurdle Trial||Grade 2 / 2m ½f||Duffle Coat (2020)|
|Saturday||Arkle Trial Novices' Chase||Grade 2 / 2m||Eldorado Allen (2020)|
|Sunday||Greatwood Hurdle||Grade 3 / 2m ½f||The Shunter (2020)|
|Sunday||November Handicap Chase||Grade 3 / 3m 3½f||Ramses De Teillee (2020)|
|Sunday||Shloer Chase||Grade 2 / 2m||Put The Kettle On (2020)|
|Sunday||Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle||Grade 2 / 2m ½f||For Pleasure (2020)|
About the November Meeting (aka The Cheltenham Open)
The November meeting takes place at Cheltenham racecourse and is run over three days, from Friday to Sunday. Each of the days have a slightly different feel to them. On the opening Friday, Countryside day, huge amounts of money are raised for the Countryside Alliance and the Injured Jockey Fund. The Saturday is BetVictor Gold Cup Day and is one of the finest days racing of the year. The Sunday is often thought of as the family day, with plenty of entertainment outside of the racing on offer.
The meeting differs from the March Festival, which is much more focussed around the racing, whereas this has some great racing, but also is an attempt to entice families and younger generations into the jumps racing world.
The meeting isn’t all that old in the grand scheme of horse racing, especially when you consider its higher profile brother, the Cheltenham Festival. But, the November Meeting does hold a huge amount of significance, given that it’s often regarded as the first major event of the jump season.
For those of you who are new to horse racing or even those who are familiar with the sport, you may be thinking that jump racing takes place pretty much all year round, and you’d be right. But, the November meet coincides with the end of the summer flat season so this is where the proper jump season really kicks-off.
The fixture is pretty much sold out for the 3 days. Even though the Friday still has a strong line up of racing, it’s the Saturday and the Sunday that are the two most popular days, with over 60,000 spectators coming through the doors on each.
Day 1 (Friday) Racecard in 2020: Countryside Day
|Time||Race||Grade / Length|
|13:15||Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle||Class 3 / 2m 5f|
|13:50||Paddy Power Handicap Chase||Class 2 / 2m|
|14:25||SPS Novices’ Chase||Class 2 / 2m 4f|
|15:00||Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase||Class 2 / 3m 6f|
|15:35||Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle||Grade 2 / 2m 5f|
|16:05||Novices’ Handicap Hurdle||Class 3 / 2m ½f|
The Countryside Day is the opening day of the meeting and with it is a rather relaxed feel to it. Whilst the racing is important, the day is set out to raise much needed funds for a several charities that are involved with the sport, including the Countryside Alliance and the Injured Jockey’s Fund.
There are 6 races that are run throughout the days racing kicking off with a handicap hurdle for conditional jockeys. The standout contest for the day is probably the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, also known as the Hyde Novices Hurdle, which is the final race of day. This often brings out some of the top novice hurdlers in the industry and is raced at a furious pace over a demanding two miles and five furlongs. Some of the previous winners have included Coneygree, Fingal Bay and Shantou Village.
The other races include the Paddy Power Handicap Chase, SPS Novices’ Chase, Novices’ Handicap and the Cross Country Handicap Chase.
Away from the tack is usually a number of attractions, including live music within the Guinness Village and The Centaur. On top of that, you are able to soak up the Shopping Village which encourages local business to pitch up and allows punters to dive in to some of the best local produce.
Day 2 (Saturday) Racecard in 2020: Paddy Power Day
|Time||Race||Grade / Length|
|12:40||JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial||Grade 2 / 2m ½f|
|13:15||November Amateur Riders Handicap Chase||Class 3 / 3m 1f|
|13:50||Arkle Trophy Trial Chase||Grade 2 / 2m|
|14:25||Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase||Grade 3 / 2m 4f|
|15:00||Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle||Listed / 3m|
|15:30||Paddy Power Intermediate Handicap Hurdle||Class 3 / 2m 5f|
|16:00||Karndean Mares’ Standard Open NHF Race||Listed / 2m ½f|
The second day of the Meeting on Saturday is the day of the Paddy Gold Cup. It normally offers up seven races throughout, one more than both the Friday and the Sunday and often demands a premium in terms of tickets as a result.
The highlight of the day comes in the form of the Paddy Power Gold Cup, previously known as the BetVictor Gold Cup. The race is often seen as a warm up to the Gold Cup that is run in March at The Festival, offering a great opportunity for younger horses to make the step up in class needed to compete at the highest level. Some of the more notable names to have won the race recently include Our Vic, Imperial Commander, Exotic Dancer and Johns Spirit.
Other races that are held on the Saturday are the, JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial, November Amateur Riders Chase, Arkle Trophy Trial, Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle, Paddy Power Intermediate Handicap hurdle and the Mares’ National Hunt Flat Race.
In a normal year, Saturday’s entertainment comes in the form of more live music in The Centaur and in some of the course’s other enclosures. On top of that the Shopping Village would usually be open with a number of local and national stores.
Day 3 (Sunday) Racecard in 2020
|Time||Race||Grade / Length|
|13:15||mallardjewellers.com Novices’ Chase||Class 2 / 3m ½f|
|13:50||November Handicap Chase||Grade 3 / 3m 3½f|
|14:25||Shloer Chase||Grade 2 / 2m|
|15:00||Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle||Grade 3 / 2m ½f|
|15:30||Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle||Grade 2 / 2m ½f|
|16:00||Standard Open NHF Race||Listed / 2m ½f|
Sunday is widely regarded as family day at the meeting and its one that is very popular for that exact reason. But, the racing is some of the best of the whole meeting and even though usually just 6 races are on, we think they are the strongest of the weekend across the board.
It’s tough to really pick one race that’s the standout for Sunday, but the top four are undoubtedly the November Handicap Chase, the Schloer Chase, Greatwood Hurdle and the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Trial. If we had to pick, we would say the Novices’ Hurdle was the strongest, simply because previous winners have included the likes of Altior, Cue Card and Moon Over Miami, to name just a few.
The other two races that day are the Novices’ Chase and the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire Standard Open National Hunt flat Race.
The Sunday is normally the busiest day outside of the track, with a huge number of events and things to do. The family fun zone is usually set up for the day which includes things such as balloons, face painting, balloon artists, pony plaiting, horse hoppers, colouring in and so much more. Celebrities such as Greg James and Chris Smith from Radio 1 have also been on hand in the past and there’s often live music across the venue.
The Course at Cheltenham
Cheltenham is one of the finest racecourses in the UK. It’s probably best known for hosting the Cheltenham Festival, along with iconic races such as the Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle and Queen Mother Champion Chase, amongst others.
Racing has occurred at Cheltenham since 1815, but the first reports were that of races at Notting Hill and on Cleeve Hill in 1818, both areas in and around Cheltenham. As the popularity of horse racing continued to rise, so did the number of people watching the sport. It was reported that crowds in excess of 30,000 would turn up, much to the dismay of the Parish, brining huge disruption to the area. In fact, it got so bad that the grandstand from the original site was burnt down in 1830.
A new home was needed and the course was eventually moved to Prestbury Park in 1831, where it still resides today. As the course continued to develop, so did the amount of spectators it was able to attract. Today, this number sits at over 67,000, making it one of the largest in the UK.
The racecourse is actually owned by the Jockey club, who took over ownership in 1964 to secure to future of the course. In that time they were able to own or part-own a number of other tracks throughout the UK, with profits getting redirected back into the sport.
Over the last 50 years the course and the facilities have seen quite a change in terms of development. Expansions throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s saw main grand stands extended several times and also hospitality for more corporate offerings and even royal guests, should they have them.
In 1990 a new stable complex was open, the parade ring extended and improved, but also that the inclusion of the cross-country course as well, now offering up 3 different courses to choose from. The late 90’s saw the complete removal of the original Tattersalls Grandstand, with a new, panoramic offering replacing it instead.
Investment into meeting facilities, accommodation and even The Centaur, allows the racecourse to hold meetings such as the November Meeting, offering up more of a festival feel to it. The turn of the Millennium saw another £20 million spent and in 2015 they unveiled their all-new Princess Royal Stand, coming in at the costly sum of £45 million.
The 2019 Meeting and Results
Day 1 – Friday 15th November 2019
Disaster struck the first day of the 2019 meeting when it was abandoned as a result of the partial flooding and waterlogging of parts of the track. This came after persistent rain in the days and week running up to the fixture. Racing for the following two days got the green light after a 3pm inspection on Friday the 15th November though the going was soft, heavy in places throughout.
Racegoers hoping to attend on Day One would’ve been hugely disappointed though there was salvation for two races on the card which were rescheduled for the weekend. The final race on the Friday card, the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, was moved to 12:05 on Saturday and became the opening race of the meeting. The penultimate race scheduled for Day One, the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap race was moved to the Sunday at 1:15, with the Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle race originally scheduled for that slot moving half an hour earlier to 12:45.
Day 1 Results for 2019
|Race||Result (SP)||Trainer / Jockey||Prize Money|
|1.||Race run Sunday 17th at 1:15||£15,640|
|1.||Race run Saturday 16th at 12:05||£18,006|
Day 2 – Saturday 16th November 2019
A sigh of relief for all involved when the weekend racing was given the green light after a Friday afternoon inspection.
The rescheduled Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle kicked off the action in 2019. The Grade 2 race generally throws up a pretty smart performer, with the best recent example being 2012 scorer, Coneygree, who later went on to grab Cheltenham Gold Cup glory. The Philip Hobbs runner Thyme Hill headed the betting at 11/8 under Richard Johnson and didn’t disappoint favourite backers staying on well to score by 3 lengths.
The youngsters were next up in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle. Connections had high hopes for the three-year-olds lining up here, in a race where the market has often proven to be a useful guide – six of the previous eight winners had been priced at 15/8 or shorter. Pre-race favourite this time around was Paul Nicholl’s French recruit, Mick Pastor. Making his stable debut here, this one hacked up by six lengths on his sole start over hurdles in France and went in the famous green and gold silks of JP McManus which had been carried to glory in the 2016 and 2017 editions of this race. He drifted out from 7/4 to 5/2 and could only manage sixth however, with the well backed joint second favourite, Allmankind winning impressively for Dan and Harry Skelton.
Back to back ultra-competitive handicaps formed the centrepiece of the Saturday card. The first of which being the 3m3½f BetVictor Handicap Chase. Most interesting amongst entries for this was the David Pipe trained 2019 Grand National runner, Ramses De Teillee. The joint favourite had won over hurdles at the course in his previous start but was saddled with top weight here, struggling to fourth place in the mud. The win went to the other joint favourite in West Approach. The Colin Tizzard trained 9 year old quickened well under Robbie Power in the run in to win by three lengths.
Next up was the big betting race of the week, the BetVictor Gold Cup. With £160,000 up for grabs this was to be as fiendishly competitive as ever, with the majority of the big yards represented. The much fancied favourite, Slate House fell two out, denying Colin Tizzard and Robbie Power a big handicap double for the day. Victory went to one of the smaller stables with trainer Kerry Lee securing one of her biggest victories to date with Happy Diva, guided home by jockey Richard Patrick who had a handy 3lb claim. .
Day 2 Results for 2019
|Race||Result (SP)||Trainer / Jockey||Prize Money|
|1.||Thyme Hill (11/8F)||P Hobbs / R Johnson||£18,006|
|2.||Champagne Well (5/1)||F O’Brien / P Brennan||£6,784|
|3.||Happygolucky (10/1)||K Bailey / D Bass||£3,395|
|JCB Triumph Trial
|1.||Allmankind (11/4)||D Skelton / H Skelton||£18,224|
|2.||Botox Has (11/4)||G Moore / J Moore||£6,838|
|3.||Repetitio (33/1)||N Hawke / D Noonan||£3,424|
|1.||Wholestone (13/8F)||N Twiston-Davies / D Jacob||£15,640|
|2.||Rockpoint (15/2)||C Tizzard / R Power||£4,620|
|1.||West Approach (11/4JF)||C Tizzard / R Power||£33,762|
|2.||Achille (10/1)||V Williams / C Deutsch||£12,720|
|1.||Happy Diva (14/1)||K Lee / R Patrcik||£90,032|
|2.||Brelan D’As (20/1)||P Nicholls / B Geraghty||£33,920|
|3.||Warthog (33/1)||D Pipe / D Noonan||£16,976|
|4.||Belami Des Pictons (10/1)||V Williams / C Deutsch||£8,480|
|1.||Golan Fortune (14/1)||P Middleton / S Lee||£22,508|
|2.||Eminent Poet (10/1)||V Williams / C Deutsch||£8,480|
|3.||Tobefair (11/2)||D Hamer / T Bellamy||£4,244|
|1.||Jatiluwih (11/4F)||P Hobbs / D Maxwell||£15,640|
|2.||Falco Blitz (13/2)||N Henderson / N de Boinville||£4,620|
|3.||Shanwalla (12/1)||P Gilligan / L Gilligan||£2,310|
Hunt Flat Race
|1.||Urban Artist (16/1)||H Morrison / N de Boinville||£12,529|
|2.||Legends Ryde (4/1)||J Snowden / G Sheehan||£4,701|
|3.||Lady In Hiding (7/1)||O Sherwood / L Aspell||£2,354|
Day 3 – Sunday 17th November 2019
There aren’t too many racing festivals over the course of the year which run on into the Sunday, but this one does and it served up what must have been one of the best Sundays of racing action of the entire season.
The conditional jockeys were given their chance to shine in the opener before we moved onto the rescheduled Cross Country Chase. Following this was the first of the day’s big Cheltenham Festival trials as the inexperienced chasers lined up for the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Al Dancer and Paul Nicholls’ Getaway Trump were the highest rated of the four horse field but it was the outsider, Put The Kettle On, who took the spoils for Henry De Bromhead and Aiden Coleman.
The classiest chase of the meeting came in race four as the Grade 2 performers tackled the 2m trip of the Shloer Chase. Plenty of famous names on the list of previous winners here, including Sir Anthony McCoy’s final Cheltenham Festival winner, Uxizandre and the majestic, magnificent, Sprinter Sacre. This year’s renewal was won by Defi Du Seuil, the 2019 JLT Novices’ Chase winner and 2018 Triumph Hurdle winner.
The day’s feature of the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle may “only” be a Grade 3, but a number of these will have had the season’s major Grade 1 events as viable targets. Prominent amongst these was the Paul Nicholls trained Quel Destin who already has two wins at the course including the Triumph Trial at this meeting least season. The four-year-old could only finish down in eighth place with Alan King’s Harambe the winner under a patient ride by Tom Bellamy.
The penultimate contest of the day saw again saw the hurdling hopefuls line up in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle. Dodging Bullets, Cue Card and Altior all feature on the list of winners in the past 10 years, suggesting that this is a race well worth keeping an eye on. It was Emma Lavelle’s Hang In There who won, springing something of a surprise as the 6/1 outsider. He made most of the running, quickening away from the field on the run in and ridden out for the win by Adam Wedge.
Last of the meeting’s races was a bumper for runners aged between four and six years of age. Even this event has pointed the way to big things in the future, with the talented Definitly Red and Champion Hurdler, Rock On Ruby amongst the previous winners. David Pipe’s Israel Champ took the 2019 running beating hot favourite Time Flies By for Nicky Henderson into second place.
Day 3 Results for 2019
|Race||Result (SP)||Trainer / Jockey||Prize Money|
|1.||Duc De Beauchene (10/3F)||D Pipe / J O’Neill Jnr||£9,747|
|2.||Ozzy Thomas (33/1)||H Oliver / N Brennan||£2,862|
|3.||Electron Bleu (16/1)||T Vaughan / C Price||£1,431|
|4.||Demon Fou (7/1)||J Scott / B Carver||£716|
|1.||Diesel D’Allier (13/2)||E Clayeux / C Deutsch||£15,640|
|2.||Urgent De Gregaine (5/1)||E Clayeux / F De Giles||£4,620|
|3.||Chic Name (11/2)||R Hobson / J Best||£2,310|
|1.||Put The Kettle On (6/1)||H De Bromhead / A Coleman||£19,932|
|2.||Al Dancer (7/4F)||N Twiston-Davies / S Twiston-Davies||£7,480|
|Shloer Chase||1.||Defi Du Seuil (11/8F)||P Hobbs / B Geraghty||£42,202|
|2.||Politologue (5/2)||p Nicholls / H Cobden||£15,900|
|1.||Harambe (16/1)||A King / T Bellamy||£56,270|
|2.||Gumball (9/1)||P Hobbs / B Jones||£21,200|
|3.||Monsieur Lecoq (9/1)||J Williams / L Kelly||£10,610|
|1.||Hang In There (6/1)||E Lavelle / A Wedge||£18,224|
|2.||Pacify (7/2)||J Snowden / G Sheehan||£6,838|
|1.||Israel Champ (16/1)||D Pipe / T Scudamore||£12,529|
|2.||Time Flies By (5/6F)||P Hobbs / R Johnson||£4,701|
|3.||Everglow (10/1)||P Hobbs / R Johnson||£2,354|
The November Meeting has been running since 2000, but it’s only been known in the current form for the 2017 onwards, previously being called the Cheltenham Open. As mentioned earlier in the article, the name was changed due to confusion between this and The Open golf tournament, as agreed by both the organisers and the R and A.
The Gold Cup has actually been running since 1960, but was added to the November Meeting upon it’s inauguration in 2000. The Grade 3 National Hunt Chase has often been a great stepping stone to the more prestigious Gold Cup that’s run at the Cheltenham Festival.
The race has the highest purse of the November Meeting with £130,000 in 2020 and is open to horses aged four and up. It’s run over the Old Course at Prestbury Park and with 2m 4½f in total distance covered and 15 fences for the horses to navigate.
The race has had numerous names over the last 50+ years, mainly through its sponsors. The original sponsor was that of Mackeson and they had pride of place right up until 1995. Since then it’s been backed by Murphy’s, Thomas Pink, Paddy Power, BetVictor and now it’s current sponsors who are once again Paddy Power.
There are two standout names associated with the race, they are Tony McCoy and Martin Pipe. The former is the most successful jockey with 4 wins to his name, coming on Cyfor Malta in 1998, Lady Cricket in 2000, Shooting Light in 2001 and Exotic Dancer in 2006. Martin Pipe has trained 8 winners in total, more than any other trainer, ranging from his first win with Beau Ranger in 1987, right up to 2005 with the legendary, Our Vic.
Triumph Hurdle Trial
The Triumph Hurdle Trial is another of the standout races at the meeting and again seen as a stepping stone for the more prestigious Triumph Hurdle held at The Festival in March. The race has been running since 1987 and there have been some big links between winner of this race and the Triumph Hurdle ‘proper’.
The race is held on the Old Course at Cheltenham and is 2 miles 1/2 furlong in length. There are eight hurdles in total that the horses need to navigate over and is targeted towards three-year-old horses, essentially novices.
The link between the two races is pretty staggering, and was highlighted in when 2016 winner Defi Du Seuil went on to win the 2017 Triumph Hurdle some 6 months later. The legendary Katchit was another to complete the same feat, winning the Trial in 2006 before going on to win the big one In 2007.
November Novices Chase (Arkle Trophy Trail)
The November Novices’ Chase is another that is hotly contested and has been able to produce some massive names within the industry. The 2 mile race was upgraded to a Grade 2 status in 1994 and has been running since 1987. Its entrants are 4 year olds and up and seen as important race in the horse racing calendar.
Its importance is outlined by the calibre of past winners, with the most notable being that of Best Mate. The horse won the event in 2000 before then going on to win the Gold Cup three times in 2002, 2003, and 2004, taking his career earnings past the £1 million mark. On top of that the horse has also secured victory in the King George VI Chase, Ericsson Chase and Peterborough Chase.
Sharp Novices Hurdle (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Trial)
The Sharp Novices’ Hurdle is run on the Sunday of the November Meeting and with it has been able to provide a great hunting ground for novice hurdlers, aged 4 and above. The 2 mile 110 yard race is run on the Old Course at Cheltenham and has seen a number of different sponsors, such as Opus energy and more recently, Sky Bet.
This is another race that has allowed some of the industry’s best horses to flourish, with probably the most notable winner in recent times being Cue Card in 2010. Cue Card has been able to earn over £1.2 million in career earnings, with success coming from the Ascot Chase, Ryanair Chase, King George VI Chase and Betfred Bowl, to name just a few. What’s been amazing to see from Cue Card is how long his career has been, earning his first major win in 2010 at the Champion Bumper to his latest coming from the Ascot Chase in 2017.
Altior is another notable name from this race, winning in 2015 before moving on to win the following Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2016. He followed this with further Cheltenham Festival wins in the Arkle in 2017 and the Queen Mother Champion Chase in both 2018 and 2019. In winning the 2019 Celebration Chase at Sandown, Altior made it a record 18 victories in a row, equalling the wins set by Paul Nicholl’s Big Buck’s.