Where are they now? – How the winners and losers from last year’s November Meeting fared after running at Cheltenham
We take a look at the winners and losers from last year’s November Meeting and look at how they got on after making headlines at Cheltenham.
The November Meeting at Cheltenham captures the imaginations of National Hunt fans during the first half of the season and last year’s meeting didn’t disappoint. Reputations were enhanced, statements were made and there were upsets aplenty during the three-day festival at Cheltenham.
Here are ten horses who made the news during the 2019 November Meeting and how they got on during the rest of the campaign.
Nicky Henderson’s Pym was fancied to do the business in the card-closing Grade Two on the first day at Cheltenham, but it was Paddy Brennan and Coolanly who triumphed. Brennan, who had already ridden two winners earlier in the afternoon, used his knowledge of the track to devastating effect once again, taking Coolanly wide coming down the hill before the pair stretched clear after the last.
Fergal O’Brien’s charge then took his chance in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury, finishing a well-beaten fifth on his Grade One debut. Coolanly performed well again as he returned to Cheltenham at the Festival, staying on to claim fifth in the Martin Pipe, but that’s as good as it’s got for O’Brien’s charge since his Grade Two triumph.
Paul Nicholls’ juvenile came to Cheltenham on the back of a 12-length triumph at Kempton and was well-backed in the Prestbury Juvenile Hurdle. Harry Cobden’s mount was prominent throughout, opening up a lead approaching the last before staying on gamely to deny Cracker Factory.
Following that Grade Two triumph, Quel Destin went on to win the Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster, before landing a maiden Grade One in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow just after Christmas. Nicholls’ charge couldn’t keep his strong form flowing into the spring, finishing an eleven-length fifth in the Triumph Hurdle, but did manage to claim victory on his second start of the new campaign at Cheltenham’s Open Meeting.
The Glancing Queen
Alan King threw his mare in at the deep-end on debut, thrusting The Glancing Queen into the Listed Mares’ flat race that draws the action to a close on day two. Despite going off as a 16/1 shot, Wayne Hutchinson’s mount travelled like a classy performer throughout, making smooth headway from the rear before striding clear to win by just over a length.
Defeats followed at Ascot and on her return to Cheltenham, where The Glancing Queen’s late effort was only good enough for fifth in the Champion Bumper. Hutchinson decided a change of tactic was needed at Aintree, sitting just off the pace for much of the race. The Glancing Queen proved her quality in the closing stages, powering clear of Minella Melody to secure victory in the Grade Two bumper for Mares.
Despite the bookmakers listing him as the fourth-favourite out of five runners, Lalor produced an outstanding performance on his chasing debut in last year’s November Novices’ Chase. Kayley Woollacott’s stable star jumped beautifully throughout, surging clear of future Grade One winner, Dynamite Dollars to secure a superb seven-length success.
Sadly, Lalor has failed to recapture the highs of that stunning victory in four outings since. Lalor was heavily beaten by Dynamite Dollars at Sandown, pulled up after just three fences in the Arkle and jumped terribly in the Maghull at Aintree. Woollacott’s star didn’t fare much better on his reappearance in the Haldon Gold Cup, trailing over the line a 16-length fourth and Lalor currently finds himself languishing in the chasing wilderness.
Punters piled into Sceau Royal ahead of his appearance in the 2018 Shloer Chase and Alan King’s stable star rewarded his backers handsomely with a convincing display. Daryl Jacob allowed Le Prezien and Simply Ned to cut out the running, before swooping in the lead between the final two fences and asserting his class on the run to the line.
After a poor showing in the Tingle Creek, King gave his charge a spin over hurdles in the New Year, losing out narrowly to Grand Sancy in the Kingwell. That seemed to do the trick, as Sceau Royal looked resurgent in the Spring, pushing the great Altior all the way to the line in both the Champion Chase and Celebration Chase at Sandown.
Elixir De Nutz
Having shown promise with a runner-up finish behind Thomas Darby on debut during the Open Meeting, Colin Tizzard’s charge went one better on his return to Prestbury Park three weeks later. Elixir De Nutz cut out the running in the Sharp Novices’ Hurdle, surviving a serious error at the second-last before eventually beating Itchy Feet and Seddon by almost two lengths.
A penalty-carrying novice triumph over Jarvey’s Plate followed at Cheltenham in December, after which Elixir De Nutz went on to secure Grade One glory in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January. The chance to watch his charge strut his stuff in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle was robbed from Tizzard as his budding star was struck down with injury in the build-up to the Festival and Elixir De Nutz hasn’t been seen since.
On his first start since winning his first Grand National, Gordon Elliott’s stable star returned to Cheltenham to take part in the Cross Country Handicap on the opening afternoon. Tiger Roll was forced to give over a stone to the field and still managed to run a solid race, crossing the line fourth behind emphatic winner, Josie’s Orders.
A surprise victory in the Boyne Hurdle followed, before Tiger Roll reversed the form with his November Meeting conqueror in emphatic fashion at the Festival, retaining his Cross Country crown with a devasting 22-length triumph over Josie’s Orders. Tiger Roll then cemented his place in the annals of horse racing history, securing back-to-back Grand Nationals with another wonderful display at Aintree.
Any runner Willie Mullins sends to Cheltenham is bound to garner significant support and Royal Illusion was backed like defeat was out of the question ahead of the Mares Bumper on day two. Danny Mullins’ mount, however, was a little too keen throughout. Once the penny dropped and Royal Illusion started to get to work, The Glancing Queen was home and hosed and Mullins’ mare had to settle for third.
Mullins then decided to make the most of his mare’s flat mark, winning two maidens during the summer before Royal Illusion handed her trainer a £54k pot at the Curragh in October. The King’s Theatre mare is expected to start out over obstacles during the wet winter months and sits prominently in the market for the 2020 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
Good ground enabled Verdana Blue to take her chance in the Greatwood last year, where Nicky Henderson’s Elite Hurdle winner was lumbered with top-weight. Punters still sided with Verdana Blue in the build-up, backing her into 9/2 favouritism, but the weight eventually took its toll and Henderson’s mare only managed to sneak into the places.
A huge shock followed at Kempton, as Verdana Blue upset stablemate Buveur D’Air in the Christmas Hurdle. The ground then went against Henderson and his team at Cheltenham, were Verdana Blue could only finish fifth in an eventful Champion Hurdle, but there was still time for Henderson’s mare to collect another big prize, as Verdana Blue bolted up to win the Scottish Champion Hurdle by seven lengths.
Following a strong debut victory over Ask Dillon at Chepstow, McFabulous was really well supported to bring the curtain down on the 2018 November Meeting in fitting fashion in the meeting-ending bumper. Sadly, it wasn’t to be for Paul Nicholls and his team, as McFabulous weakened quickly in the final furlong, crossing the line eleven lengths adrift of Master Debonair.
A winter break followed and McFabulous looked back to his best when beating Faustinovick on his return to action at Newbury in March. Nicholls then decided to skip Cheltenham, instead sending McFabulous to Aintree and his five-year-old held off a late charge from Thebannerkingrebel to secure the first Graded prize of his career.