Day Three: Cheltenham November Meeting Sunday (Previously Open Sunday)

november meeting sunday cheltenham november meeting

Day One is named Countryside Day because it’s dedicated to the countryside, telling people all about it and raising money for the likes of The Countryside Alliance or World Horse Welfare. Day Two is named Gold Cup Day because the feature race is the BetVictor sponsored Gold Cup, which shouldn’t be confused with the Gold Cup race that takes place during the Cheltenham Festival. Day Three is named The November Meeting Sunday because it takes place on the Sunday.  It was formely known as Open Sunday

The name might seem a bit rubbish on first inspection, but the reason it’s noteworthy is that this is the only time in the year when the Cheltenham Racecourse hosts racing on a Sunday. It’s also when the slightly more carnival atmosphere returns to the course when the racing’s not taking place. When it comes to the racing itself, there are more top-quality races than on either of the other days of the November Meeting. Out of the six races on the card, four of them are Grade races, so you’ll see quality on the course and have fun off it.

November Meeting Sunday Day Race Card

There’s a reason people refer to 'Lazy Sundays', so don’t be surprised if the timetable doesn’t quite run to plan throughout the day. Generally speaking, though, the times we’ve given here are when the various races should get underway, if all is well.

Race 1 - Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle - 1.15pm

1 15pm

Day Three starts off with the longest race of the day, a conditional handicap hurdle that takes place over two miles, five furlongs and twenty-six yards (2m 5f 26y). It’s a Class 3 race that counts as a qualifier for the series final of the The Challenger Staying Hurdle later in the season.

The field for this one is normally quite big, with around twenty horses entering the race even if not all of them finish it.

2017 Winners,

  • Horse - Melrose Boy
  • Jockey - Kieron Edgar
  • Trainer - Harry Fry
  • Winner Prize Money - £7,507

Race 2 - Arkle Trophy Trial Novices Chase - 1.50pm

1 50pm

Arkle is one of the most famous horses ever to run at Cheltenham Racecourse, so it’s no major shock that there are a number of races dedicated to the famous bay gelding’s memory. This is when the Graded races really kick in on Day Three, with four-year-old and older novices getting involved in this Grade 2 chase.

It’s run on the Old Course over a distance of one mile, seven furlongs and one-hundred and ninety-nine yards (1m 7f 199y). There are twelve fences over the course of the race and the field is normally quite small - only three horses ran this in 2017.

2017 Winners

  • Horse - North Hill Harvey
  • Jockey - Harry Skelton
  • Trainer - Dan Skelton
  • Winner Prize Money - £19,932

Race 3 - Schloer Cheltenham Chase - 2.25pm

2 25pm

Race number three on Day Three is essentially a carbon copy of the previous race, with the exception that it’s not for novices. It is, once again, run on the Old Course over a distance of one mile, seven furlongs and one-hundred and ninety-nine yards (1m 7f 199y).

It’s another Grade 2 race and it’s open to horses aged four and over. The field is normally closer to five than to ten and has been taking place at Cheltenham since 2009.

2017 Winners

  • Horse - Fox Norton
  • Jockey - B.J. Cooper
  • Trainer - Colin Tizzard
  • Winner Prize Money - £42,712

Race 4 - Unibet Greatwood Hurdle - 3:00pm

3pm

The Greatwood Hurdle, which is currently sponsored by Unibet, is the feature race of Day Three of the Cheltenham Open. It’s a Grade 3 race that’s run under handicap rules, open to nags aged four and up. Bettors who love an ante-post wager often keep an eye on the outcome of this race to give them some hints ahead of the Champion Hurdle for the Festival.

It’s run over two miles and eighty-seven yards (2m 87y), which is actually a bit further than the Champion Hurdle. The field normally welcomes in excess of ten horses, so expect a bit of a battle to the finishing line.

2017 Winners

  • Horse - Elgin
  • Jockey - Wayne Hutchinson
  • Trainer - Alan King
  • Winner Prize Money - £56,950

Race 5 - Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle - 3.30pm

3 30pm

The final graded race of the day is this Grade 2 event that runs over two miles and eighty-seven yards (2m 87y). It has eight jumps that the four-year-old and upwards horses will need to negotiate, preferably with their jockeys if they’re hoping to win.

If you’re the sort of bettor that likes to get a sense of which horses you should keep your eye on for the season ahead then this is the race you’ll want to watch. It’s normally a reasonably small field too, so you’ll be able to really look out for each horse’s strengths and weaknesses.

2017 Winners

  • Horse - Slate House
  • Jockey - Harry Cobden
  • Trainer - Colin Tizzard
  • Winner Prize Money - £17,085

Race 6 - Open National Hunt Flat Race - 4.00pm

4pm

The day, and indeed the weekend, comes to a close with this National Hunt flat race. It’s a Listed event that’s run over the same distance as the previous two races: two miles and eighty-seven yards (2m 87y). The big difference is the lack of any jumps, which is what makes it a flat race.

Open to horses aged four to six, the field normally contains about ten contenders that rock the ground as they pound on it towards the finishing line.

2017 Winners

  • Horse - Crooks Peak
  • Jockey - Richard Johnson
  • Trainer - Philip Hobbs
  • Winner Prize Money - £11,390

What To Expect On November Meeting Sunday

Cheltenham Racecourse

The Sunday is a really interesting day when it comes to the Cheltenham Open. There are, as mentioned in the intro, the same number of prestigious races as across the other two days of the weekend combined. That leads to the majority of bettors taking things quite seriously when they’re looking at what’s taking place on the course, just as you’d expect from a day of racing that will give us a huge number of clues about what’s going to happen about four months later when the Cheltenham Festival rolls around.

Meanwhile it’s a lost more laid back off the course. Gold Cup Day isn’t boring by any means, but the more relaxed and fun nature that you’ll have encountered on Countryside Day will be back in the stalls and shops. Speaking of shops, Cheltenham has a 'Shopping Village’ you can pop along to to pick up a few different things if you need to. That might be the case if you rock up wearing fancy dress, given this isn’t really the weekend for that sort of thing. You won’t be kicked out or anything, but you may well pick up a few funny looks. Really this is the weekend for tweed jackets, long coats and leather gloves. Plan for the worst when it comes to the weather but hope for the best.

Given that children under the age of eighteen are allowed in for free over the course of the weekend, you shouldn’t be surprised to see more families knocking about when you’re there. There are plenty of stalls and other sorts of entertainments for younger people, which you might want to get involved in yourself if you’re in the mood for it. Sundays are always more chilled out days for most people, though that also means that you’re unlikely to see any celebrities or Royals appearing, if that’s the sort of thing that bothers you. Instead expect your typical racegoers who are perhaps trying to introduce younger people to the experience before heading off for a Sunday lunch at a nearby pub.

Final Thoughts

Open Sunday, as it used to be known when the entire weekend was known as the Cheltenham Open, is a fitting end to a fun few days of racing. The November Meeting is the occasion that most people in the industry see as the official start of the jump racing season.

This is your first opportunity to get involved ahead of the season proper and the Sunday is your last chance to make a note of decent horses to bet on throughout the coming year.