The Open Meeting Cheltenham
The Open meeting at Cheltenham is the first major Jumps meeting of the year and can provide some major clues for that season's Cheltenham Festival, with the feature race the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
It runs between the third weekend of November and lasts for three days.
Punters are guaranteed plenty of thrills and spills as they do battle for the first time of the Jumps season with the bookmakers. Whilst the racing on the track is of the highest quality, what makes this meeting so spectacular is the atmosphere in the stands and in the mini-village behind the grandstand.
There are 80 trade stands open in the village, selling a variety of foods, wines and beers, and it really produces a homely feel to proceedings on what is usually typical autumn weather. The three day Festival kicks off on the Friday with Countryside Day, which is one of the most popular and well attended Jumps race-days of the year. This is the meeting that really kick starts the traditionalists for the Jumps season after a summer of Flat has been and gone.
There are six high-class races, all of which will provide substantial clues to later on in the season.
The feature event is the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, which is run around the twists and turns of the unique cross country course.
The Saturday, which is named Paddy Power Gold Cup day, is really where the racing comes to the fore. The Paddy Power Gold Cup is arguably the most prestigious handicap run outside the Festival itself and always produced a top-class winner that is usually backed by the local punters.
The highlight on the Sunday, which is called simply The Open, is The Greatwood Hurdle for young novice hurdlers that have aspirations of achieving greater heights as the season wares on.
There are also two high class two mile chases on the card, which only adds to the excitement on what is the last day of a truly captivating Festival of racing.