Talking Horses: waterlogging forces Cheltenham to abandon Friday card

By on November 14, 2019

Cheltenham’s opening day of its November meeting on Friday has been abandoned after heavy rain. Track officials have announced an inspection on Friday afternoon for Saturday’s meeting, owing to the waterlogged state of the course.

The ground on all three courses at the track is sodden and was altered to soft, heavy in places after 20mm of rain fell overnight on Wednesday. Further downpours have continued on Thursday, with a further 15mm believed to be possible by the end of the day.

A statement from the track read: “After 37mm rainfall in the past 18 hours, very sadly we have had to abandon racing at Cheltenham on Friday November 15, as the course is flooded in areas as well as waterlogged in places.

“Ahead of racing on Saturday there will be a further inspection on Friday afternoon at 3pm. Further information will be issued accordingly. The weather outlook for the next few days is showers on Friday with dry days currently forecast for Saturday and Sunday.”

Two races scheduled for Friday have been saved. The Grade Two Ballymore Novice Hurdle is now scheduled to take place as the first race on Saturday, while the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase will be run on Sunday.

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said: “Over the past 18 hours we have had nearly 37mm of rainfall and the course is flooded in areas. As such, we have had to regrettably abandon racing on Friday.

“Two races from Friday will be rescheduled across the weekend. However, the racing on Saturday is subject to an inspection at 3pm on Friday as the course is currently unraceable.

“We thank the BHA, the sponsors, and ITV Racing for their support in arranging the rescheduling of the card and hope for more positive news tomorrow afternoon, after the inspection.” Tony Paley


Update: Sadly racing tomorrow has been ABANDONED.

See below for more information for all those with pre-purchased tickets.

November 14, 2019

Rachael Blackmore returns to her ‘special place’

The last day Rachael Blackmore was riding at Cheltenham, she won a Grade One race on a 50-1 shot. Now the Irish jockey, who made such a stunning breakthrough into the big time last season, is on her way back to take part in the three-day race meeting at the Gloucestershire track this weekend, an occasion that, for many jump-racing fans, marks the true start of each season.

“It’s a special place,” the 30-year-old said. “For anyone who gets a jockey’s licence, a winner at Cheltenham is the dream. It’s brilliant I can say that I’ve done it. There’s always an extra bit of buzz there. Cheltenham in general is a very special place and winners any time of year are hard to come by.”

Blackmore did so well last winter there was quite a bit of expectation for her prospects at the March Festival, where her total of 17 rides was a record for a female jockey. She delivered on day one with a comfortable handicap success on A Plus Tard, followed three days later by Minella Indo in the Albert Bartlett.

Rachael Blackmore at the Lambourn stables of the trainer Jamie Snowden. Photograph: Johan Annerfelt

“People tell you what it’s like to win a race at Cheltenham but I think to believe them, you have to go and do it. It does live up to all expectation. It was a lot of relief when A Plus Tard won, as well as joy, it takes the pressure off. But it was just a fantastic moment. You’ve ridden a winner in Cheltenham, it was incredible. And then for Minella Indo to do it on Friday in a Grade One was very special.”

Blackmore is “really looking forward” to this return to the scene of those triumphs, though at the moment she is only scheduled to be at Cheltenham on the Friday, before returning to Ireland for valuable contests like Saturday’s Morgiana Hurdle.

“I’ll be on Dancing On My Own in the Ballymore Hurdle on Friday. We thought a lot of him last year. He’s got some good form behind Klassical Dream. I was very disappointed with him in Galway, he didn’t perform, but back going left-handed last time, he did it very easily. Hopefully he can do the business. It looks a good race.”

More immediately, she will be on the likely favourite, Monalee, in Thursday’s exciting Clonmel Oil Chase, opposed by the mighty Douvan, who last ran in April 2018. “I think Monalee’s going to run a very big race. He’s fit and he’s well. You wouldn’t want to underestimate him.”

Life has changed a bit for Blackmore now that her profile is so much higher. She is an ambassador for the bookmaker BetVictor and sounds a shade regretful not to be taking part in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday. She has a similar role for Kildare Village, a collection of luxury shops that led to her doing some modelling this summer.

And she enthuses about her role supporting Ireland’s 20×20 campaign, aiming to increase the visibility of women’s sport. “The aim is to get 20% more coverage by the end of 2020 for women in sport and 20% more participation. It’s a fantastic campaign.”

She is more reticent about ambitions for her own career. “A lot of jockeys would say the same, you’re just going day by day, I don’t set myself any major targets. I never would have set myself a target of what I’ve achieved, so I think I’ll just continue with that mentality, take every day as it comes and hope to just keep the momentum up and stay in the winner’s enclosure.” Chris Cook

Thursday’s best bets

It’s going to be stamina-sapping stuff, with overnight rain making it more testing than some connections perhaps imagined when they declared runners at Ludlow and Taunton.

Stamp Your Feet (4.00) is interesting at 6-1 for the handicap hurdle at the end of Ludlow’s card. Chasing has not proved for him in his runs so far this year but he returns to the smaller obstacles on a rating 13lb below the one he had the last time he tackled them, a year ago.

Yes, he was well beaten that day but that was a Class Two. Today, he gets his first ever try in a Class Four handicap and Tom George’s horses are going well.

Christmas In USA (12.30) represents an in-form yard in Sedgefield’s opener and appeals at 11-4 on the basis that he needed his reappearance run. Goldencard (1.00) is fairly priced at 3-1 for this switch to fences after a couple of wins over hurdles. CC

12.30 Christmas in Usa 1.00 Goldencard (nb) 1.35 Minella Trump 2.10 La Cavsa Nostra 2.45 Point N Shoot 3.15 Skyhill 3.50 Glorious Lady

12.55 Utility 1.25 Roar 2.00 Mandalayan 2.35 Brewin’upastorm 3.05 Viva Vittoria 3.40 Overland Flyer 4.10 Sir Psycho (nap)

1.15 Eleanor Bob 1.50 Darling Alko  2.25 Enrilo 2.55 Midnight Chill 3.30 Gavrocheka 4.00 Stamp Your Feet

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