The organisers at Cheltenham racecourse had to contend with false claims online leading up to the start of The Open meeting.
A ‘fake news website’ made accusations that the track was closed until January on Thursday (10 November) — the day before the popular three-day showcase kicked off, forcing the racecourse to issue a swift statement on their Facebook page.
The bogus website stated that “The world famous Prestbury Park track will be closed until at least January 2017 after structural damage has been found to multiple parts of the grandstand earlier today. This could not have happened at a worse time with the Open Festival commencing tomorrow.
“It is believed urgent discussions are now being held about potentially relocating the festival beginning tomorrow. We are awaiting a full statement.”
The racecourse responded by sharing a screenshot of the made-up story, saying: “We are racing today for the first day of The Open. Please do not believe any reports to the contrary, below is taken from a fake news website. Gates open at 10:30am, first race 12:55pm. See you all later!”
The meeting had already been forced to replace the Glenfarclas cross country race today (11 November) with a veterans’ handicap chase — won by Astracad — because of the unsuitably firm ground in the centre of the course, where the race is run.
- Cheltenham favourite to take ‘well-deserved retirement’
- Cheltenham honour for JT McNamara
- Travellers move in to Cheltenham racecourse
The highlight for racing fans over the three days will be Thistlecrack’s second run over fences in the mallardjewellers.com novices’ chase on Saturday (12 November).
The Colin Tizzard-trained eight-year-old was described as “phenomenal” by his jockey Tom Scudamore following his winning chasing debut at Chepstow in October and will be looking to keep his three rivals at bay tomorrow.
Saturday’s feature race is the Betvictor Gold Cup and will see Alan King’s charge Annacotty, the David Pipe-trained Ballynagour and Jonjo O’Neill’s Taquin Du Seuil and More Of That included within the 19-runner field.