This Friday and Saturday, 23rd and 24th October, the home of national hunt racing holds it’s opening meetings of the season.
Cheltenham Racecourse is the mecca. It is the equine jumps racing equivalent of what Wembley Stadium is to football. It is the Ceaser Palace or the Wimbledon of jump racing
The 2020 National hunt season diary pays its first visit to the course, where historically, the thrills and the spills are part and parcel of the heritage that surrounds the sport.
Usually seen as the real start to the season, even though the season begins officially in August, the first weekend meeting at Cheltenham is fully accepted to be the date when all the top stables, who do not always have the top horses, are ready to go to war.
Alongside top stable representations in competition for the prize money, there is also months of hard work on the line in the hope that all summer, stable lads and trainers have that golden chance of having that one horse that has improved into being a much better horse than first thought.
On that note, it was at this meeting in 1997 that Lady Rebecca, that famous mare of Henrietta Knights, which was purchased a refula sale for £450 won the first of her seven victories at the course over the years. Lady Rebecca went on to win 10 of her 15 races earning a proud £166’000 in doing so …… not a bad purchase was she.
So it’s onwards to the first Cheltenham meeting of the year where the hope in every stable that is sending a runner to the two-day meeting is that hopefully they have another Lady Rebecca, but it is highly unlikely.
However, all national hunt racing fans will be chomping at the bit come Friday when at the start of the 2mile5f novice hurdle that opens the meeting year in year out goes off at 1.50pm, gives the signal to another season of a sport that is not only just for kings.