The must-see races in November that offer vital Cheltenham Festival clues

Lostintranslation will put Cheltenham Gold Cup credentials on the line in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park.
Lostintranslation will put Cheltenham Gold Cup credentials on the line in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park.

Steve Chambers picks out five races that can't be missed in November, with vital Cheltenham Festival clues firmly on the mind...

We may be in strange times at the moment, with racing taking place behind closed doors in the UK & Ireland, but the equine action on the track is certainly delivering and serving up some spectacular entertainment. We may be over four months away from the Cheltenham Festival, but any smart performance on the track from now until the spring will see the horse in question earn an obligatory price for one of the 28 Festival races.

Now, while Festival fever may only be at the embryonic stage at the moment, November's National Hunt schedule will get the juices flowing amongst jumping fans, with a plethora of top-class horses set to make their reappearance on the track, as they take their first steps on the 'Road to Cheltenham' and here at HorseRacing.net, we pick out some of the main attractions in the eleventh month of the year, that will ultimately provide a host of Cheltenham Festival clues...

Haldon Gold Cup, Exeter: Tuesday 3rd November

Exeter racecourse's flagship race, the Haldon Gold Cup will be a real midweek treat for Jumps fans, as the limited handicap chase will see some potential class acts take their chance, as they look to kick off the season on a winning note. Won by such stars as Flagship Uberalles (1999), Best Mate (2001), Azertyuiop (2004) and Cue Card (2012) down the years, the West Country feature has long been a race targeted by classy horses that could have an ultimate target of ling up in the likes of the Ryanair Chase or Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Paul Nicholls has already pencilled in his exciting performer Greaneteen, as last season's Grand Annual fourth looks to continue his progression over fences, and the Ditcheat in-mate could be an eye-catching runner, while there's sure to be a host of contenders that are looking to throw their hat into the ring for the premier chases at the Cheltenham Festival, so it's certainly a must-watch race on the same day that the Melbourne Cup takes place Down Under.

Shloer Chase, Cheltenham: Sunday 15th November

While Cheltenham's three-day Open Meeting in November is spearheaded by the ultra-competitive Paddy Power Gold Cup, the supporting races to that valuable handicap chase are absolutely superb, and one in particular that can throw up a multitude of Cheltenham Festival clues is the Shloer Chase.

Run on the final day of the meeting alongside the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, the Shloer Chase is a Grade 2 contest run over a trip just shy of two miles, and it's a real pointer to the Queen Mother Champion Chase. First held in 2009 when won by top class speedster Well Chief, the Shloer Chase has continued to grow in stature since, with the biggest name of them all Sprinter Sacre winning the 2015 renewal before lifting the roof off Prestbury Park a few months later with a fine Champion Chase win.

The 2020 running is set to be another scorcher, with 2019 champion Defi Du Seuil potentially lining up against the likes of Arkle hero Put The Kettle On and recent impressive Cheltenham winner Rouge Vif, who is sure to venture out of the handicap sphere after a facile win at the Open meeting. If those three do clash then it should serve up an almighty contest, as the premier two-milers on British soil jostle for positions.

Morgiana Hurdle, Punchestown: Sunday 15th November

On a real super Sunday of first rate National Hunt action, the Morgiana Hurdle will be the showpiece event on Punchestown's card, with some real Champion Hurdle contenders staking their claim for that Grade 1 contest. A prestigious race in its own right, the Morgiana Hurdle has been dominated by Willie Mullins over the last decade, with the Co. Carlow handler saddling the winner of the last nine renewals.

Hurricane Fly (2012, 2013, 2014) and Faugheen (2017) are just two of the stars from the Closutton yard to etch their name on the illustrious roll of honour, and this year's class act from the Mullins yard could be Saint Roi, who is already a clear favourite for the race in the ante-post betting, and the current 10/1 chance for the Champion Hurdle will look to cement his place as a prominent figure in the two-mile hurdling division. Saldier and Sharjah are another brace of Mullins-trained entries, but Gordon Elliott's Supreme Novices' Hurdle runner-up Abacadabras will step up against the big boys this season, and currently second favourite behind Saint Roi adds yet more depth to one of the races of the month.

Betfair Chase, Haydock Park: Saturday 21st November

With three wins in the last five renewals of the Betfair Chase, Colin Tizzard will look to extend his sensational record in the Haydock Grade 1 on November 21. Having saddled Cue Card to back-to-back victories, Tizzard trained Lostintranslation to a hugely impressive victory 12 months ago, as he propelled into the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture. Unable to deal with the likes of Al Boum Photo and Santini in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Lostintranslation will embark on another season in the highest echelon of staying chases, and the former JLT Novices' Chase runner-up is set to try and retain his crown in the 2020 Betfair Chase.

Regarded as one of the premier Gold Cup trials alongside the King George VI Chase, the Betfair Chase has been one of the main events pre-Christmas since its inception, and this year's renewal looks no different, with Lostintranslation likely to face a whole host of classy opponents. The aforementioned Santini is a prominent figure in the ante-post betting, and Nicky Henderson's class act could take his chance, while dual winner Bristol De Mai is looking to recapture the crown he won in 2017 and 2018. RSA Chase hero Champ is another priced up prominently at the time of writing, so while all of these class acts may not be seen at Haydock Park, even a few of them taking their place would serve up a scorching renewal.

Ladbrokes Trophy, Newbury: Saturday 28th November

An action-packed, exhilarating November will conclude with Newbury coming to the forefront, and that meeting's flagship is the Ladbrokes Trophy, which will see some exciting second season chasers take on some experienced campaigners over the larger obstacles, with the winner often launching into the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture.

Impressive 2019 RSA Chase winner Topofthegame wasn't seen at all last season after he picked up an injury, but the Paul Nicholls-trained star, who beat Santini and Delta Work in that RSA Chase, is set to make his hotly-anticipated comeback - and is currently heads the ante-post betting. Nine horses have won the Ladbrokes Trophy and gone on to win the Gold Cup, with Native River (2018) the last to achieve that feat, and there will be some classy performers set to take their chance and show they could be of Gold Cup class. Copperhead looks an exciting staying chaser to go to war with this season, while The Conditional and Imperial Aura both won a handicap at Cheltenham in March, and will both look to continue their progression in the Newbury spectacle.

2021 Cheltenham Festival
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