Chris Dent's 153 kicks off festival
Gloucestershire 348 for 3 (Dent 153, A Gidman 145*) v Kent
Century-makers Chris Dent and Alex Gidman put on 267 for the third wicket as Gloucestershire reached 348 for 3 on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival against bottom-of-the-table Kent.
Gidman joined Dent in the middle after young Kent seamer Calum Haggett had accounted for Michael Klinger and Dan Housego to leave Gloucestershire on 74 for 2 in the 19th over.
Dent reached his first hundred of the season from 205 deliveries and advanced to a career-best 153, with 17 fours and two sixes in his 270-ball innings, before Haggett had him caught behind.
Gidman, who survived difficult catching chances on 38 and 58, brought up his third County Championship century of the year from 185 balls and moved on to 145 not out at stumps, having struck 19 fours and a six.
After winning the toss, home skipper Klinger helped Dent get the innings off to a brisk start with a flurry of boundaries from the bowling of South African star Vernon Philander and Charlie Shreck.
Haggett made the breakthrough for Kent in his second over from the College Lawn End. Klinger chased a wide delivery and only succeeded in edging it to Darren Stevens at second slip to depart for 20 with the score on 46. Haggett, who was released by Somerset without making a first-class appearance, struck again in his fifth over when Housego, on 13, got an inside edge onto his stumps.
Tight spells from Philander and Stevens slowed the scoring rate and an evenly-balanced morning session ended with Gloucestershire on 98 for 2 from 31 overs.
But It was a different story thereafter as Dent and Gidman took advantage of the short boundaries square of the wicket and a quick outfield to lead Gloucestershire into a strong position.
Gidman enjoyed a slice of luck on 38 when Brendan Nash failed to grasp a head-high chance at extra cover off Stevens. His second reprieve came on 58 when Stevens, at backward point, failed to hold a diving catch off Philander.
Dent also offered a chance on his way to three figures. He flicked the third ball after tea from Charlie Shreck down the legside, but wicketkeeper Geraint Jones was unable to hold a one-handed diving catch. Soon after, Dent swept James Tredwell's offspin for a single to bring up his third first-class hundred and his second at Cheltenham, having scored a ton against Surrey at the ground two years ago.
Gidman, 32, reached his century eight overs later with a single to square leg off Tredwell. Having given up the captaincy at the end of last season, Gidman is enjoying an excellent season.
Dent and Gidman accelerated the scoring rate in the closing hour's play and no bowler suffered more than Tredwell, who is still searching for his first Championship wicket of the summer. Dent struck him for two straight sixes and Gidman also hit him for six over midwicket as he ended the day with 0 for 83 from 19 overs.
Kent finally had a third wicket to celebrate when Haggett struck with four overs of the day remaining. Dent flashed at a ball outside off stump and snicked a catch to Jones.