This Friday and Saturday, the home of National Hunt racing holds its 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 Caesers 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 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 are also months of hard work on the line, in the hope that stable lads and trainers have that golden chance of having a horse that has improved into a much better horse than first thought.
On that note, it was at this meeting in 1997 that Lady Rebecca, the famous mare of Venetia Williams which was purchased a refusal sale for £450, won the first of her seven victories at the course. 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. Personally, I think it is highly unlikely.
However, all National Hunt racing fans will be chomping at the bit come Friday: when the start of the two mile and five feet novice hurdle that opens the meeting year in, year out begins at 13:50, and the flag goes up to another season of a sport that is not only just for kings.
Feature Image: cheltenhamracecourse.com
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