For jump racing fans, the November Meeting at Cheltenham is the surest sign yet that the new season is starting to kick into gear and some of the big names of the sport have already been in action for their first run of the season. A couple of weeks ago we saw Frodon, last season’s King George hero, lowered the colours of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Minella Indo in Ireland.
Cheltenham is jump racing’s spiritual home, and the November Meeting is the first significant signpost on an exciting trail that will lead all the way back to the Cotswolds for the Festival in March. The meeting has been built up by the course’s management over the years to the stage where it represents a mini festival in its own right. There are some fantastic races over the three days that will entertain fans of the sport, while also whetting the appetite for some terrific action over the sticks in the months to come.
The centerpiece of the meeting is the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase on Saturday that began life as the Mackeson Gold Cup, one of British racing’s first sponsored events, in 1960. It carried Mackeson’s name for 35 years and has had a variety of sponsors since. Paddy Power took over the sponsorship between 2003 and 2015 and returned as the headline backer in 2020. The Paddy Power Gold Cup is one of the biggest pre-Christmas races in the UK and Ireland and boasts great names such as Imperial Commander, Fondmort and Cyfor Malta on its roll of honour. It is supported by a cast of intriguing and high-quality races on all three days of the meeting, including some cracking Cheltenham November novices’ chases on the first two days and the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle on Sunday. Cheltenham November Meeting 2021 tickets are selling well and there is every prospect of a big crowd and a bumper atmosphere to enjoy the action across the weekend.
When it comes to Cheltenham’s November meeting – and the Paddy Power Gold Cup in particular – there are several intriguing trends it’s worth knowing before settling on your Cheltenham tips. The first is to be aware of the trainers whose horses are in good form already this season. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has started extremely well, as has one of the men keenest to take his crown this season, Dan Skelton. Nigel Twiston-Davies – whose horses are always worth checking out at this meeting – has been among the winners, as have Colin Tizzard and Alan King, who both have an excellent record here at this time of year.
When it comes to the horses, never forget that Cheltenham is an idiosyncratic track. Not every horse that runs here gives its best form over the course’s undulations and stiff jumps. If a horse has run here three times or more without winning, that is unlikely to change this weekend. Irish-based horses dominated the Festival in March, but the Paddy Power Gold Cup is virtually always won by a UK-trained runner. Indeed, only one Irish-trained horse has won the race since 1980. The horse in question, Tranquil Sea, was also the last favourite to win and that was 12 years ago. However, the winner tends to be among the leaders in the betting. The average price of recent winners was shorter than 10/1.
It’s also worth noting that only two of the last 14 winners carried more than 11 stone to victory. One of the other strong trends races at the November Meeting is the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle. Emmet Mullins trained the winner last year in The Shunter – who went on to win at the Festival in March – but that was the only Irish-trained success since 2007. It pays to check out horses rated 145 or less – and Philip Hobbs, Paul Nicholls and Alan King all have compelling recent records in the Greatwood.
Over the three days of the November Meeting, there will be a host of extremely competitive races for jump racing fans to enjoy. Finding a winner at this course is never easy, but here are some Cheltenham tips that could make the weekend go with a swing.
Dan Skelton has ascended to the upper echelons of British trainers without handling a stand-out superstar with the ability to win big races and the star quality to become a household name. That could change this season in the shape of MY DROGO, who will be the focus of intense attention as he jumps a fence in public for the first time. My Drogo looked a top chaser in the making as he enjoyed an immensely promising season over hurdles last winter, culminating in his emphatic victory in the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree on Grand National day. Backing short-priced favourites in novices’ chases can be a short cut to the poor house. But My Drogo is an imposing unit with the power and panache to be one of the stars of the winter, and he is one of the strongest Cheltenham tips of the meeting.
Four of the last seven winners of the Greatwood have been five years old. Philip Hobbs has trained the winner recently. And favourites have a shocking record in the race. So CAMPROND, who is unlikely to go off at the top of the market, ticks three significant trend boxes as we look ahead to what is always a hugely competitive handicap hurdle. Even more persuasive was the style of his victory on his first visit to Cheltenham last month. Camprond went off at odds-on and didn’t always look certain to land the cramped odds, but there was a lot to like about the way he asserted after the last and scooted up the Cheltenham hill.
Course and distance form counts for a lot at Cheltenham. And MANOFTHEMOUNTAIN went into many observers’ notebooks as a horse to follow over two-and-a-half miles when he recorded a highly impressive victory over the trip at the track in April. Emma Lavelle is an extremely shrewd placer of her horses and Manofthemountain will have bypassed the Grand Sefton at Aintree last weekend for a good reason. He tuned up for the Paddy Power Gold Cup with a pipe-opener at Chepstow in October and should be spot-on to put up a highly competitive show in the big race of the November Meeting.
If you are unable to secure Cheltenham November Meeting 2021 tickets, that doesn’t mean you will miss out on the action across three excellent days’ racing. ITV brings live coverage of four races from each day of the meeting, with Saturday’s action on the main channel and the other two days on ITV4. Jumping aficionados can also catch the remaining races on Racing TV.
In addition, most bookmakers will be carrying live streams of every race from the meeting. As long as you have a positive balance, or have placed a bet on the race – or any event in the previous 24 hours – you should qualify to be able to watch. Check the live streaming terms and conditions of your chosen bookmaker.
When is the Cheltenham November Meeting?
The November Meeting takes place at Cheltenham over three days between Friday November 12 and Sunday November 14. The Paddy Power Gold Cup and the Cheltenham November Novices’ Chase both take place on the Saturday, but there is a host of excellent action on the other two days.
What is the dress code for Cheltenham November Meeting?
There is no formal dress code for the November Meeting. However, it is expected that you dress smartly if you are in the Club Enclosure or hospitality facilities. And no fancy dress is allowed on the Saturday of the meeting. The main advice, however, is to make sure you wrap up warmly to counter Cheltenham’s notoriously chilly breezes.
Where can I get tickets to the Cheltenham November Meeting?
The best place to book Cheltenham November Meeting 2021 tickets is through the Jockey Club’s website dedicated to the course. Tickets are available for all three days of the meeting and for a range of enclosures to suit your budget.
What time is the first race at the Cheltenham November Meeting?
Now that the clocks have gone back, racing starts early. The first race of the November Meeting is scheduled to go off at 1.10pm on Friday afternoon. The action begins at the same time on Sunday. However, Saturday features a seven-race card and the first of them is due to begin at 12.30pm.