There will be plenty to entertain fans of British point-to-pointing when Cheltenham’s three-day November Meeting begins today.
A highlight of today’s card, the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (2.55), will see the first start in such a race by ten-time British champion Gina Andrews, who teams up with top-class hunter chaser Latenightpass. The combination won the 2022 Randox Foxhunters’ Chase at Aintree, and have also been placed in it twice.
Two weeks ago Latenightpass left the yard of his long-time trainer Tom Ellis and joined Dan Skelton in order to be eligible for today’s test. Andrews has schooled the ten-year-old over Cheltenham’s cross-country track and says he handled it well, although she is concerned that the trip of three and three-quarters of a mile will test her horse’s stamina.
Racegoers who choose to delay their departure after racing can attend Tattersalls Cheltenham’s November Sale, which begins in the sales ring at 4.45pm. From a catalogue of 50 some 40 horses are expected to go under the hammer, including three British point-to-pointers. They are Reine Des Tartes (Lot 17), a filly who won at Badbury Rings on Sunday for Bradley Gibbs’ stable, the horse who finished second, Machu Piccu (Lot 41), from Chris Barber’s yard, and Noble Don (Lot 49) who was second at Dunsmore on the season’s opening day. Noble Don is trained by Ian Chanin.
Freddie Mitchell gathers up Reine Des Tartes after a final-fence error at Badbury Rings, but the pair went on to win (Ce)
Returning to the racing action and the meeting's most valuable race is tomorrow's Paddy Power Gold Cup (2.20), in which former British point-to-pointer Harper’s Brook will line up for trainer Ben Pauling. In December 2020, when trained by Tom Ellis, the gelding won Britain’s first point-to-point restricted to four-year-olds.
Earlier on the card, the amateur jockeys’ handicap chase (1.10) features a number of top British riders, including reigning national champions Gina Andrews (Wayfinder) and Will Biddick (Tea Clipper). Jack Andrews won the race last year on Anightinlambourn for trainer Ben Pauling, and they team up again with Mole Court. Ed Vaughan, who recently made his British pointing debut, rides one of the likely favourites, Strictlyadancer, while former men’s champion James King partners Grandads Cottage.
Noble Don, who is offered at Tattersalls Cheltenham this evening, pictured under James King, who rides in tomorrow's amateurs' chase (Ce)
Sunday’s card includes a Listed bumper (4.00) which will see last season’s top-rated British four-year-old point-to-pointer in action. Rickety Bridge, who was trained and ridden to victory by Will Biddick at Bishops Court in March, has since joined champion trainer Paul Nicholls. The son of Kapgarde was beaten a short-head when making his debut for Nicholls at Worcester last month.