Cheltenham November Meeting 2019 : Look Out for some Festival Pointers
- Friday 15 November to Sunday November 17
- Live on ITV
Cheltenham November Meeting 2019
Jump racing sprung back into life in October officially, and we have seen some good races so far. For many, the Cheltenham November Meeting is the big early season meeting to kick things off. This three day event between November 15 and 17 brings us a wide variety of racing, from staying handicappers who have been around for the past few seasons to the two listed flat races showcasing youngsters of the future. We should also see some Cheltenham Festival clues throughout the meeting, with trial races for the Triumph Hurdle, Arkle Chase and Supreme Novice Hurdle, as well as other races that could provide clues for punters looking ahead to March 2020 already.
Saturday - BetVictor Gold Cup Preview
The big race of the weekend at Cheltenham is the BetVictor Gold Cup, a top class handicap over 2m4f. We have an intriguing clash here, with top quality horses at the top of the weights who could go onto contest graded races in the future, with some having done that in the past, and at the bottom we have the lesser exposed horses who could prove here that they are well ahead of their current mark. Top weight Saint Calvados has been taken out of the race, and will instead run on Sunday in a race over a shorter distance due to the heavy ground.
The likely favourite on Saturday, and a horse that has been the subject of a very big antepost gamble is Slate House. He won in very eye-catching style at the last meeting here, pulling away to beat a competitive field by 11 lengths. He's up 12lb in the weights for that, but it is deserved based on the performance. Something else he has in his favour is the ground, Cheltenham was a bog that day, and those conditions are pretty much what we should be expecting to see tomorrow. I do have on big question mark over him though, and that is his ability to handle the hustle and bustle of this race. This is a big field, full of experienced heads and something he is not used to. Can he cope with that in what will be just his 6th start over the larger obstacles? He is clearly well in himself, goes on the ground, but is a competitive big field handicap right for him at this stage in his career? He's passed over for that reason.
There are two I do like in this race and the horse we will start with is Spiritofthegames. He comes here on the back of a wind operation during the summer, trainers that use these well can transform horses after them, let's hope Dan Skelton has done that with this fella, although based on his run at the Cheltenham Festival last season he may not need to. He finished third behind Siruh Du Lac, who also runs here, going down by three lengths. The form has been boosted recently by the second winning the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter last week, a top handicap. Spiritofthegames gets a 6lb pull at the weights here, something I think will be enough to turn the result around. 6lb for three lengths is enough to get in front, and that is there without taking into account the possible improvement from the wind op that Spiritofthegames has had.
The second horse I like is Count Meribel who is a little further down the weights. His trainer Mark Grant is a little unfashionable, and because of that I think he's slipped under the radar a little. He ran at Carlisle a couple of weeks ago so has a fitness advantage of many in the field which will help on this ground, and the run was a very promising one. He was just over two lengths behind a horse being aimed at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Lostintranslation and if you take that form literally then this horse is extremely well handicapped based on that. Now I don't believe Lostintranslation was 100% ready for his seasonal debut, and he could have gone away to win by further that day, but even when you include all of that, this horse put up a better performance than 146 that day, which is the mark he runs off here. He is a guaranteed stayer so bad ground won't stop him from getting home, and he has ran well on heavy ground in the past, albeit quite a while ago.
Those are the two against the field on Saturday in the BetVictor Gold Cup.
Cheltenham Saturday Tips
1:15pm - Wholestone
1:50pm - Big River
2:25pm - Spiritofthegames & Count Meribel
3:00pm - Here No Evil
Sunday - Shloer Chase Preview
Just four runners go to post for this one, although the field is top class from start to finish, so the race certainly doesn't lack quality. The betting is likely to have this priced up as a match between Politologue and Defi Du Seuil, these two have the form edge over the other two although it must be said that the two outsiders do have a fitness advantage, with both of them coming here on the back of a run.
Although only an eight year old himself, of the main two in this one, Politologue is definitely the old timer, going up against a younger rival. When dropped to two miles and sent around this course in the Champion Chase last season we saw Politologue at his very best, finishing less than two lengths behind Altior in March. A repeat of that would make him very tough to beat, although it remains to be seen whether he can match that, and even more so whether he can do it on his first run of the season.
It is for that reason I will be siding with the younger horse here, Defi Du Seuil. This is a horse that ran against some of the best novice chasers last season in his first over the bigger obstacles. He beat Lostintranslation twice last season, including once at this course. He also got the better of Topofthegame from the Paul Nicholls yard, a horse who would have been aimed at the Gold Cup this season was it not for an injury. The question mark is whether Defi Du Seuil needs this drop back to two miles, but the heavy ground will help his stamina come into play, so it is not a huge problem for him.
This horse could eventually become a live contender for something like the Ryanair at the Cheltenham Festival, and I fancy him to get his campaign off to a winning start on Sunday. He is just edging favouritism at the moment:
Sunday - Greatwood Hurdle Preview
One of the most competitive handicap hurdles of the season takes place on Sunday, and it is always an almost impossible task for punters, this year looks no different. There are a whole host of horses in the field with very different profiles, some look progressive, others look well handicapped on old form and there are even a few we don't know too much about because they have been off the track for a while.
It is one of the progressive youngsters that really catches my eye, a horse that could really be on the up. This is Benny's Bridge from the Fergal O'Brien yard. He is currently second favourite for the race, so others have spotted him too, and it was hard to not be impressed with his run at this course last month. Although that was not as competitive and tough as this race, it was a big field handicap over this course and distance on bad ground, so there is a lot going for him just based on that, let alone with the manner of his victory. He came away from the field with ease, eventually recording a winning distance of eight lengths and the way he came away suggested there was plenty more to come from him.
He's gone up 10lb for that, which is fully justified, but there could well be more to come from this horse and if that race was anything to go by, he looks set for a good season.
Another course and distance winner to mention in the race is Quel Destin for the Paul Nicholls team. He too won on bad ground at the last Cheltenham winner, and while course and distance form is always something to note here, it could prove to be even more important this weekend due to the conditions at both the last meeting and this one.
However, it is Benny's Bridge who is the horse I am siding with in the Greatwood,
Cheltenham Sunday Tips
1:50pm - Getaway Trump
2:25pm - Defi Du Seuil
3:00pm - Benny's Bridge
3:30pm - Ecco
Friday November 15- Countryside Day
Sadly the first day of the November meeting has succumbed to the weather. The decision not to go ahead with racing was taken on Thursday after 37mm of rain left the course waterlogged. There is an inspection at 3pm on Friday to determine whether racing can take place over the weekend but organisers are hopeful it will.
Saturday November 16 - BetVictor Gold Cup Day
The main day of the meeting, and what a fantastic card of racing we have in store. Headlining the afternoon is the BetVictor Gold Cup, a handicap over 2m4f for the very best middle distance handicappers. Many of these will go onto bigger and better things in the future, and with a big field assured, this is always one of the best early season races to get stuck into for punters. Baron Alco led home the field last year for Gary and Josh Moore, and he could be back to defend his crown this season. Recent Cheltenham winner Slate House was very impressive in October, and he currently heads the antepost BetVictor Gold Cup market.
The Saturday of this meeting is not just about one race though, the card throughout is excellent, starting off with a trial race for the Triumph Hurdle. The youngsters taking part in this one will have hopes of returning to run at The Festival, though they do have something to prove at this time of the year, and many punters will be keeping an eye on this one, in the hope of finding some clues to the youngsters in the division this season. Clues should be around in the second race too, a staying novice chase for those who are thinking about a tilt at the RSA Chase in March. These horses are the ones who eventually turn into Gold Cup contenders as they progress, could we see a young horse beginning its path to the Gold Cup this year?
Top quality handicaps surround the BetVictor Gold Ciup, both over hurdles and fences so we are sure to see some big fields going to post for those races before another interesting race for the future ends the day. The staying chase on the card could even provide Grand National clues for us, especially if the ground turns very soft and gives the horses a real test. This is a listed national hunt flat race for mares, horses who are still young and there is every chance that we see something here that goes onto the Cheltenham Festival either in 2020 or beyond.
Sunday November 17- Family Fun Day
This is a perfect day at the races for families, with plenty of entertainment taking place away from the track. This includes a performance from the D-Day Darlings who made the final of Britain's Got Talent.
However, on the track we have another fantastic card and more races which are sure to be informative in the future. Heading up the action is the Grade Three Greatwood handicap hurdle, which just like the BetVictor Gold Cup on Saturday, is one of the big early season handicaps that everyone looks forward to. The horses in this race are close to top grade, even though this is a handicap, so if anything wins this race impressively then you can expect to see them move into open company soon after.
The Grade Two Shloer Chase features horses that will be hoping to make their mark in the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. This has been won by some special horses in the past, including Sprinter Sacre and although it is not seen as the feature race of the day, this is a big race on the early season calendar for horses who run over two miles. Supporting the main two races we have two trail races for The Festival, which should provide punters with many clues going forward. The first is the Arkle Trial for two miles chasers and the second is the Supreme Trial for two mile hurdlers. Both races could see a star in the making taking them, and should see some top entries when they come out. Things come to an end with a listed national hunt flat race just like on Saturday, this time an open race, and of the two this is certainly the one most likely to provide us with a star performance.
- Baron Alco won the 2018 BetVictor Gold Cup by two lengths from Frodon.
- Baron Alco has finished in the top four in each of his last five races at Cheltenham.
- Slate House is the favourite for the BetVictor Gold Cup after an 11-length course win last month in the Matchbook Best Value Betting Exchange Novices' Chase.
- Nine year-olds have won two of the last three BetVictor Gold Cups.
- The last three runnings of the Greatwood Hurdle have all been won by five year-olds.
- Nietzsche won the Greatwood Hurdle last year carrying 9st 7lbs, the lowest winning weight in the history of the race.
- After a 288-day break, Sebastapol made a winning reappearance at Wincanton last month and is favourite for the Greatwood Hurdle.
- Colin Tizzard has trained the winner of the Shloer Chase twice in the past three years.
- Lalor won the Arkle Trophy Trial last year but was pulled up when taking part in the Arkle this year.