The first meeting of the 2009/10 National Hunt Season at Cheltenham Racecourse gets underway on Friday 16th October, the first of a two day meeting and the first of nine days racing at Prestbury in the lead up to the main event, the Cheltenham Festival, which begins on Tuesday 16th March 2010.
Friday and Saturday's meetings will see all the big guns of the Jumps world descend on Cheltenham to get their first feel of the famous course for the first time in over six months as they take the first step on the fictitious yet renowned roads which 'lead to the Cheltenham Festival'. With all the leading stables holding entries and top jockeys all booked to ride, expect to see the likes of champion jockey AP McCoy, Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls and the famous colours synonymous with the leading powers of the National Hunt. Friday's feature race is the WBX Novices' Chase, which see several Arkle hopefuls take their chance.
One of the more interesting runners in the WBX Novices Chase field is Snap Tie, who runs over fences for the first time following a campaign over hurldes that saw him run at the very highest level, with the Philip Hobbs trained runner last seen at Cheltenham in the 2009 Champion Hurdle, where he finsihed a respectable 7th of 23 runners, 14 lengths behind winner, Punjabi. It remains to be seen how he will handle the bigger obstacles but if he shows signs of jumping well on his chasing debut on Friday, there is every chance that the current 20/1 quote about him in the Arkle odds will be gone.
The early stages of the new Jumps season is really a time when caution should excercised by punters given that most horses are coming off the back of long breaks and many trying new distances and obstacles to boot. However, it is a great time of year to really enjoy the start of what is an amazing six months of fanstic sporting spectacle.