Cheltenham November Meeting Day One: Countryside Day

friday countryside day cheltenham november meeting

As with the more prestigious and better known Cheltenham Festival, the November Meeting at the racecourse is built around a Gold Cup. This one is slightly different to the one that horses and jockeys compete over in March, though including the fact that it’s run on the middle day of the meeting rather than the final day. If you’re only interested in things that are gold and shiny then you can head straight to the information page for Day Two, though you’ll be missing out on some cracking races if you do.

The more that the November Meeting grows in popularity, the more prestigious races are added to the race cards of all three days. Day One is no exception, filled with interesting races to whet your whistle for the days ahead. This is the page you’ll need for all of that information, including rough timings (that are always subject to change) and details on things like dress codes. We’ll tell you everything we can, but it’s fair to say that information on most of the races isn’t as easy to come by as with the more prestigious Festival races.

Countryside Day Race Card

As mentioned at the start, the schedule of a race day can always be moved around for any number of reasons. Here are the main details of the races though, including their normal start times.

Race 1 - Amateur Riders Handicap Chase - 12.40pm

12 40pm

The weekend gets underway with this Class 2 handicap race that is run over three miles, one furlong and sixty-seven yards (3m 1f 67y). As with most of the races during this meeting, it’s run on the Old Course and is open for four-year-olds and upwards with amateur jockeys.

Usually there are between ten and fifteen horses that enter the race, which you might want to take into account when you’re placing your bets.

2017 Winners

  • Horse - What A Moment
  • Jockey - Mr R O Harding
  • Trainer - David Pipe
  • Winner Prize Money - £13,191

Race 2 - November Novices Handicap Hurdle - 1.15pm

1 15pm

Race number two is, as the name suggests, for novices It’s another one that’s run on the Old Course and it’s open to novice horses aged three-year-olds and up.

The race lasts for two miles and eighty-seven yards (2m 87y). It’s a Class 3 handicap and normally has around fifteen to twenty horses running in it.

2017 Winners,

  • Horse - Magic Dancer
  • Jockey - Richard Patrick
  • Trainer - Kerry Lee
  • Winner Prize Money - £7,507

Race 3 - BetVictor Handicap Chase - 1.50pm

1 50pm

This Class 2 race takes place over one mile, seven furlongs and one hundred and ninety nine yards (1m 7f 199y). Open to four-year-olds and older, it’s the third handicap race of the day.

Typically speaking you can expect somewhere in the region of ten horses to compete in it.

2017 Winners

  • Horse - Doitforthevillage
  • Jockey - Paddy Brennan
  • Trainer - Paul Henderson
  • Winner Prize Money - £28,152

Race 4 - Steel Plate Novices Chase - 2.25pm

2 25pm

Another race that’s open to four-year-olds or older, the Steel Plate Novices Chase runs over two miles, four furlongs and seventy-eight yards (2m 4f 87y).

It’s a Class 2 race that normally features quite a small field. In 2017 only four horses ran in it and one of them pulled up, so don’t be expecting particularly big odds from the bookies. It’s one of only two races that isn’t handicapped.

2017 Winners

  • Horse - Finian's Oscar
  • Jockey - B. J. Cooper
  • Trainer - Colin Tizzard
  • Winner Prize Money - £15,640

Race 5 - Cross Country Handicap Chase - 3:00pm

3pm

The longest race of the day by some distance takes place on the Cross Country Course and lasts for about three miles, six furlongs and thirty-seven yards (3m 6f 37y).

It’s open to horses aged five and older and the field normally contains ten or more horses. It’s an exciting one to watch that will tell you plenty about the horses that have got some staying power for the coming season. The fourth handicap race of the day, it’s a Class 2.

2017 Winners

  • Horse - Kingswell Theatre
  • Jockey - Tom Scudamore
  • Trainer - Michael Scudamore
  • Winner Prize Money - £15,640

Race 6 - Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle - 3.35pm

3 35pm

The countryside day comes to a close with the biggest race of the day, the Novices’ Hurdle. Featuring ten hurdles and run over two miles, five furlongs and twenty-six yards (2m 5f 26y). It’s a Grade 2 race for novice horses aged four and up.

The field usually contains between five and ten horses and this is the one you’ll want to keep your eye on for clues about the best horse to bet on for the Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival later on in the jump racing season.

2017 Winners

  • Horse - On The Blind Side
  • Jockey - Nico de Boinville
  • Trainer - Nicky Henderson
  • Winner Prize Money - £17,085

What To Expect On Countryside Day

Parade Ring at Cheltenham Racecourse

The day is named in honour of the Countryside Alliance, the organisation that looks out for the interests of folk based in the countryside. The Alliance is not just about their work on wildlife and management, also dealing with such diverse issues as farming problems and the struggles with getting a decent mobile phone signal as soon as you move away from the motorways and A-roads of the UK.

For that reason you can expect plenty of country folk turning up and contributing towards the country fair style atmosphere that has made the day such a hit. Day one of the Open also raises funds for World Horse Welfare, a charity that aims to improve the lives of horses throughout the UK thanks to campaigning, education and, of course, some hands-on care. As you’d expect, therefore, there are plenty of stalls with informational handouts that you can pick up to get yourself informed on what’s going on with the charity.

Unlike the Festival week, the Open doesn’t really tend to attract members of the Royal Family or celebrities in the same way that the Festival does. Instead Day One is filled with fun activities like duck racing, trail hounds and deerhounds being paraded around the ring before the action starts. When it comes to what to wear, there are no specific rules at Cheltenham Racecourse. Obviously the fact that it’s countryside day means that a general county sort of look would be more than acceptable.

Final Thoughts

If Champion Day at the Cheltenham Festival is a raucous, noisy affair then Countryside Day at the November Meeting is a decidedly more sedate introduction to the weekend. That’s not to suggest that it’s boring or that the racing itself isn’t worthy of your attention, just that you’re more likely to see folk dressed in tweet watching duck racing rather than downing pints of Guinness and getting hoarse from shouting.