As it says on the Cheltenham Racecourse Website “Football has Wembley, Tennis has Wimbledon and Jump racing has Cheltenham”. Already all roads lead to Cheltenham in March 2012. The three Day Cheltenham Open Meeting kicks off this Friday (11th November) with the main race being the Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase run on Saturday. Long Run ran third in this last year before going on to win the King George VI Chase at Kempton and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. In the Gold Cup we had one of the most exciting finishers seen for a number of years with Kauto Star, Denman and Long Run all rising as one (as pictured) at the second last fence. This years Paddy Power Gold Cup Chase which is worth £150,000.00 and run over 2 miles 4 furlongs looks as though it will go off with the maximum number of twenty runners. Poquelin heads the weights and has probably been left in so that his stable companion, Mon Parrain, can run off the handy weight of 10 stone 8 pounds. Ruby Walsh comes over from Ireland to take the ride. Wishful Thinking from the Phillip Hobbs stable also has strong claims along with Great Endeavour from the David Pipe stable.
In the final race on Friday, the Steel Plate and Sections Novices’ Chase, Grand Crus makes his chasing debut. He receives 5lb from Cue Card who has already won over the bigger obstacles. It will be an interesting race over the 2 miles 4 furlongs. Earlier in the afternoon Garde Champetre looks a worthy favourite in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase run over 3 miles 7 furlongs. Provided the years have not caught up with him he is a standing dish in these races.
On Sunday Fingal Bay reappears in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle run over 2 miles 5 furlongs. He was mighty impressive at Chepstow and is highly thought of by the Phillip Hobbs stable.