The much anticipated November Meeting 2019 did not get off to a good start as organisers have cancelled the race card owing to water-logging on the course.
Countryside Day (Friday 15th November) was completely abandoned and no racing took place. The cancellation was announced at 1pm Thursday, two hours before the scheduled 3pm course inspection.
Saturday’s race card for Gold Cup Day was in doubt but following an inspection on Friday at 3pm racing is now set to go ahead with the going being soft and heavy in places.
3.7cm Of Rain Hits Cheltenham
Simon Claisse, the clerk of the course at Cheltenham, said the track was currently unraceable, with large patches of standing water spread across the track and only so much can be done to move the water.
The decision to abandon the first day of racing was made following a deluge of 37mm of rain over Cheltenham in just 18 hours over Wednesday night and Thursday.
Any pre-purchased tickets for racing or car parking on the Friday will be refunded.
Will There Be Racing On Saturday?
Yes. Course organisers were optimistic that racing would go ahead for Gold Cup Day with much less rain falling over the 36 hours from Thursday into Friday. Racing was given the go ahead at the 3pm inspection on Friday. November Meeting Sunday is also expected to go ahead as planned with less than 5mm of rainfall forecast over Friday and Saturday.
Two races have been moved from Friday, one to Saturday and one to Sunday (read more below). Runners in chase races will be diverted around an area of false ground and will run through an different area.
What Happens To Fridays Races?
The two feature races from Friday’s card are due to be moved to Saturday and Sunday’s cards, making 8 races on Saturday and 7 on Sunday:
- The Grade 2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle is due to be rescheduled to Saturday at 12:05.
- The Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase is due to be run on Sunday at 13:15 (conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle has been brought forward to 12.45). The Aintree fence, however, will not be jumped.
There are no plans as yet to run the remaining 5 races on the Countryside Day card.
ITV have agreed to begin broadcasts earlier on both Saturday and Sunday in order to show the races that have moved.
What Happens If Saturday Is Cancelled?
Saturday is the feature day of the meeting, hosting the Grade 3 BetVictor Gold Cup. At present there are no contingency plans should the second day not go ahead, although it is likely the Gold Cup would be run on the Sunday.
The meeting may need to be rescheduled at a future date and/or a different course, or may be abandoned completely.
Has This Happened Before?
With the Nation Hunt jump racing season taking place over the winter months it is fairly common for races, days and meeting to be cancelled. In 2018 The Cheltenham Festival itself was in danger of cancellation due to heavy ground from melting snow, although this never came about in the end. The 2019 meeting was also nearly abandoned due to a horse flu outbreak.
The last race day to be cancelled at Cheltenham was the New Year’s Day Meeting in 2013.