The Open, Cheltenham Racecourse
PUBLISHED: 01:16 19 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:09 20 February 2013
Talk to anyone about Cheltenham Racecourse and many thoughts turn towards The Festival in March, the climax of the Jump racing season, featuring the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The good news, though, is that there is an equally exciting event...
The Open - three days of racing magic
Talk to anyone about Cheltenham Racecourse and many thoughts turn towards The Festival in March, the climax of the Jump racing season, featuring the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The good news, though, is that there is an equally exciting event just around the corner in the shape of The Open on Friday 11th, Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th November.
The atmosphere is electric, the racing high voltage and the competition simply crackles with intensity as many of the best horses from Britain and Ireland lock horns for the first time this season. Reputations can be made or broken, new heroes will emerge and the atmosphere is a mixture of fun and spine-tingling excitement. Add in 80 trade stands in the Open Shopping Village, a huge range of bars and restaurants, plenty of pre-racing entertainment and youll understand why nowhere else does top class sport quite like Cheltenham.
Friday at The Open is Countryside Day with its unique country fair atmosphere and a range of displays and demonstrations covering many equine and other country pursuits. This year, Equestrian Team GBR will be here, as we head towards London 2012, and The Thoroughbred Breeders Association stages the ever-popular National Hunt Stallion display too. With bookmakers Paddy Power, who are the main sponsors of the meeting, involved in some fun and games, it is worth getting here early for one of the most popular days of Cheltenhams season.
The six races on offer are pretty special too, with the feature event being the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, over the twists and turns of our unique cross country course, used on this day for the first time since March. Countryside Day also raises significant sums for both The Countryside Alliance and Equestrian Team GBR. And if you still have any energy left after all that, there is a Brightwells Bloodstock Sale in the evening, to which all are welcome.
Paddy Power Gold Cup Day
For many racing fans, this is the day when the new Jump racing season really gets into top gear. The Paddy Power Gold Cup has been run every year since 1960 and in that time many of the sports greatest names have won the race, from Tom Dreaper and Pat Taaffe in the early days, to AP McCoy and Jonjo ONeill in recent years. Last seasons 50th anniversary race went to 20/1 chance Little Josh, a popular local winner for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and his 18 year old son and jockey, Sam. Long Run, who went on to win the King George at Kempton and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, was third.
There are five other highly competitive contests on one of the best Saturday cards of the season. Plenty of Irish horses and racegoers also make their way to Cheltenham for The Open, which only adds to the vibrant atmosphere.
Another cracking six race card on a day that is very popular with families and racing enthusiasts alike. The highlight is The Greatwood Hurdle, which sees the up and coming stars of the hurdling world take centre stage. Earlier in the day, there are two high class 2 mile chases. in 2010, these featured Captain Chris, just beaten on his debut over fences before winning Grade 1 races at both Cheltenham and Punchestown in the spring; and by Gauvain, who beat Forpadydeplasterer in a thrilling encounter.
Winners at The Open are what owners, trainers and jockeys all thirst for. Add to that the tens of thousands of people on the racecourse who have a financial interest in the racing and you have the recipe for a fantastic adrenaline rush for all concerned. The Open has developed into a major festival over the last decade and has become a weekend of entertainment, sport and fun not to be missed. On all three days, racegoers under the age of 18 are admitted free.