As Britain locked its doors for the month and entered a nationwide lockdown for a second time, the show continued at Cheltenham in the form of The November Meeting.
Following the events of October’s Showcase fixture, the extended three-day card took place once again behind-closed-doors at Prestbury Park on the Friday with six contests, headlined by the Grade 2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
A winner at the track a month earlier, Kim Bailey’s Does He Know landed a Gloucestershire, and local, success once again under David Bass.
In an intriguing novice chase, future Grade 1 hero Protektorat announced himself as a chaser to be reckoned with following a bloodless win under Harry Skelton for brother Dan, while former Festival heroes Easysland and Tiger Roll failed to fire in the Glenfarclas Cross County Chase.
Kingswell Theatre claimed glory for Michael and Tom Scudamore.
There were further wins for Castle Robin, Magic Saint and Lively Citizen.
A day later, Coole Cody was not to be denied in the Paddy Power Gold Cup for Tom O’Brien and Evan Williams, bravely holding Cheltenham stalwart Spiritofthegames and the highly-weighted Al Dancer at bay.
Subsequent Triumph silver medalist Adagio had to settle for second best seven months ago as well, chasing home Duffle Coat, as Robbie Power picked up a double on the day with Eldorado Allen landing the Grade 2 Novices’ Chase later in the afternoon.
Would-be Champion Bumper third Elle Est Belle shared a dead-heat with Harry Fry’s Ishkhara Lady, while Storm Control, On The Blind Side and Stimulating Song completed the day’s proceedings.
On the final day, none other than Cheltenham heroine Put The Kettle On took the Shloer Chase, keeping up her unbeaten track record having won the Arkle Trial at the meeting in 2019, and she would go onto land the Champion Chase in March under Aidan Coleman.
A second prospective Festival winner would also steal the show on the Sunday, as Emmet Mullins’s The Shunter took the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle as the Irish completed a duo of raides.
The son of Stowaway would go onto win the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso before landing the Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase in March.
Ballymore fourth eight months earlier, The Big Breakaway won on chase debut, while Ramses De Teillee claimed Grade 3 honours for David Pipe.
For Pleasure made all to score a remarkable front-running win in the Supreme Trial, where he’d go onto be third in the main event two months ago, while former Gold Cup-winning jockey Sam Thomas trained Good Risk At All to success in the curtain closer.