It was a season like no other at Cheltenham and racecourses across the globe, as Prestbury Park’s campaign began with The Showcase meeting back in October.
After the April Meeting and Race Night were cancelled earlier in the year due to the covid-19 pandemic, this was the first time the Gloucestershire track had hosted a race fixture since the events of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.
Behind-closed-doors, Kim Bailey’s Does He Know secured a local victory in the first contest at the course in over seven months under David Bass in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, seeing off Midnight River and would-be champion jockey, Harry Skelton.
Bailey’s charge would also go onto win at The November Meeting a month later, while the Dan Skelton trained Faivoir secured a Cheltenham double with a win later in the card and then most recently at The April Meeting.
Perhaps the most popular of winners on day one, though, was the subsequent National Hunt Chase hero Galvin.
Now trained by Ian Ferguson, the Gold Well gelding landed a summer treble across the Irish Sea before easing to success under Robbie Power at the Home Of Jumps Racing at the backend of last year having finished second at the Festival earlier in the year.
Kept away for March thereafter, he won at Prestbury Park at the third attempt two months ago after a super ride from Jack Kennedy when beating Paul Nicholls’s Next Destination and former stable-mate Escaria Ten.
Other winners on the Friday were Dr. Richard Newland’s Captain Tom Cat, former Kingmaker winner Rouge Vif, Marsh Novices’ second Fusil Raffles and the Mount Nelson gelding Tegerek.
On the second and final day, the headlines would be all about one partnership.
The 2019 Ryanair victor Frodon put in another stellar Cheltenham display under Bryony Frost, lumping 11st 12lbs from pillar to post and seeing off West Approach to record a sixth win at the track for Paul Nicholls.
He would win the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, before finishing a creditable fifth in the Gold Cup.
That confirmed a double on the card for the Ditcheat handler, with Southfield Stone winning earlier in the day under Harry Cobden.
I Am Maximus, who hasn’t been seen since, took the concluding race of The Showcase under Nico de Boinville.
He saw off none other than My Drogo, who has since go onto be undefeated in four starts over hurdles and even won at Grade 1 at the Grand National Festival in April for the Skelton’s.
The remaining winners on the card were Botox Has, Honest Vic, Streets Of Doyen and Bermeo, respectively.