In less than 24 hours Prestbury Park will fling open the gates on yet another eagerly anticipated National Hunt campaign, playing host their two day Showcase Meeting – a fixture that has gone from strength to strength in recent years.
Below is my full 7 race preview featuring every runner from every race.
Good luck and enjoy!
2.00 – THE BALLYMORE NOVICES’ HURDLE (Class 2) 2m5f
Net De Treve made a successful start to his career over timber at Uttoxeter three weeks ago and will enjoy conditions at Cheltenham tomorrow.
It was somewhat surprising that Tom George’s five-year-old couldn’t land a bumper last term but he certainly looks set to make up for it over hurdles.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Rocco came good at Chepstow two weeks ago and will bid to emulate stablemate The New One, who landed this event in 2012.
The imposing five-year-old was having his third start over hurdles in Wales and displayed a really pleasing attitude in the closing stages. He looks sure to appreciate the stiff up-hill finish.
Gordon Elliott always has runners at this meeting and will be represented by the experienced mare Make My Heart Fly, who rattled-up a fantastic four-timer in Britain this summer.
This obviously represents a rise in class for the six-year-old but she does arrive in fine heart and with fitness in her side, which can only be a positive.
Sean Bowen has been booked to ride Irish raider Go Another One, who has won three times during the summer and arrives here in search of a hat-trick following victories at Stratford and Kelso respectively.
Bowen has ridden the six-year-old to all three of his successes this season and will hope to maintain their impressive strike-rate tomorrow. Entered in both novice and handicap company at the start of the week, it is interesting that connections have elected to take this route. Indeed, it may be a tip in itself.
Carardier, who will be the mount of Barry Geraghty, is another Irish raider who arrives with solid form in the book.
The lightly raced six-year-old placed third behind the classy pair Woodland Opera and Peregrine Run when last seen at Down Royal in August and will appreciate the decent ground at Prestbury Park tomorrow. He certainly warrants a market check.
Tony Carroll fields dual-purpose performer Havana Beat, who fell when in search of a hat-trick on his latest start over timber.
The versatile eight-year-old was last victorious at Aintree in April where he saw off the consistent Northern trained Dear Sire and tough-as-teak Sternrubin by upwards of 10 lengths. A recent outing on the All-Weather at Kempton will have blown away the cobwebs and another bold bid can be expected tomorrow.
Grageelagh Girl, who is 2-3 over hurdles, and Sizing Cusimano, who was the only one to finish when successful at Market Rasen, will require a career best to get involved here.
Cases can be made for each of the Irish trained trio in this opening contest, however, I am happy to side with the improving ROCCO, who won a shade cosily on his reappearance at Chepstow and should be much more at home over this intermediate trip. The manner of his victory suggested that both the extra yardage and stiff uphill finish will be right up his street tomorrow. While the form of his yard offers further reason for optimism.
2.35 – THE SQUAREINTHEAIR.COM NOVICES’ CHASE (Class 2) 1m7f199y
Caid Du Lin, One For Billy and Dear Sire will renew rivalries after placing first, second and third respectively at Worcester in September.
The latter, who was the highest rated over timber (142), reversed the form with the former at Sedgefield earlier this month. While the middle-named hasn’t been sighted subsequently but only narrowly failed to concede 12 to the winner that day and arrives here with consistent form-figures of 21122 over fences. This represents a steep rise in class for all three, but you can’t put a figure on experience.
Gary Moore will represented by former Willie Mullins inmate Diakali, who has taken to fences like the proverbial duck to water, winning his two starts by a combined distance of 52 lengths.
Those victories came in Class 4 and Class 3 contests respectively and this rise is class should give connections a better idea of where they stand in the pecking order. The ground will be ideal and a big run can be expected.
Storm Home is a fascinating contender on based on his solitary start between the flags at Largy in April 2016, where he was set to beat subsequent dual Grade 2 winning novice hurdler Getabird before crashing out at the final fence. However, he was very disappointing on his first attempt over fences at Uttoxeter in May and will need to show significant improvement to get involved here.
Sister Sybil ran out an impressive 15 lengths winner of a class 2 Mares Handicap Chase at Prestbury Park in April and will hope to continue her upward curve in the in the hands of Tom O’Brien. While Kevin Frost and Paddy Brennan team up with the hat-trick seeking All Set To Go, who sauntered to a 27 lengths success at Worcester last month and will relish the good ground that he will encounter tomorrow.
Diakali appears to be a smart recruit to the novice chasing ranks based on his two facile wins during the summer. However, it may pay to side with the greatly consistent ONE FOR BILLY, who very nearly conceded 12lbs to the re-opposing Caid Du Lin at Worcester last time out. The Skelton yard are sending out plenty of winners at present and the six-year-old will arrive here fit and ready to run with conditions to suit.
3.10 – THE BRANDON HILL CAPITAL HANDICAP HURDLE (Class 3) 2m5f
2017 Champion Bumper seventh And The New makes his handicap debut off a mark 135, which could be workable given the way in which the form of his latest effort has worked out.
Johnny Farrelly’s seven-year-old finished third behind Michael’s Mount, who placed third in the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices Hurdle on his next start before scoring at Ludlow in March. While the second home, Doux Pretender, won his only subsequent start by 5 lengths.
It may also be significant that the son of Kalinisi is stepping-up in trip on his handicap debut, which looks sure to suit given the ability he displayed in bumpers.
Both Really Super and Vive Le Roi arrive here harbouring hat-trick aspirations.
The former appears to be on a steep upwards curve following two smart victories at Worcester this summer and will attempt to defy a 7lb higher mark for Amy Murphy, Jack Quinlan and the very enthusiastic White Diamond Racing Partnership. The former flat performer jumped well and won with authority on her latest start and undoubtedly warrants her place in this field.
The penny also appears to have dropped for Vive Le Roi, who is vastly experienced over timber and has won his last two starts by a combined distance of 20 lengths. The seven-year-old was handed a 9lb rise for his latest success and will need to improve again to get competitive here. However, both the ground and trip are to his liking.
Last season’s Grade 3 Imperial Cup winner Mr Antolini will represent the father and son team of Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies.
The eight-year-old boasts a progressive profile since arriving from Ireland and bumped into another improving horse when finishing second at Plumpton in April. He will line-up off a 2lb lower mark tomorrow and could easily continue his progression.
Golden Birthday has been dropped 3lb for his lacklustre showing in the Grade 3 Silver Trophy at Chepstow two weeks ago and is now only 2lb higher than his last winning mark. While Court Minstrel, who finished a wholly respectable seventh in that very same contest, will run off the same mark of 131.
The locally trained Lungarno Palace returned to action with an odds-on success at Stratford three weeks ago and will be looking to build upon that success tomorrow. The former flat performer defied a penalty on his seasonal reappearance and ran a number of promising races in defeat last winter.
This is perhaps his toughest task to date, but he can’t be ruled out and any market support would be encouraging.
Whatthebutlersaw brings both a wealth of experience and greatly consistent profile to the party with form figures of 31261121 achieved since November 2016.
Lightly raced for his age, the Dominic Ffrench Davis trained nine-year-old looked better than ever when running out a 6 lengths winner of his latest start at Fontwell. More will be needed in his bid to overcome a 10lb hike in the weights, but his consistent profile and scope for improvement after just 16 career starts renders him a noteworthy contender.
Gordon Elliott is doubly represented with both High Expectations and is Water Sprite.
The former is the mount of Richard Johnson and arrives here following a smooth success at Sedgefield in early September. While the latter will be ridden by Denis O’Regan and will be looking to build upon his gutsy success at Limerick two weeks ago.
Brillare Momento is a course and distance winner who ran a respectable race to finish third on her reappearance at Worcester in September. While Fortunate George, who ran no race at all when well beaten in handicap company at Aintree in the spring, may find life tough off a mark of 134.
Canton Prince and Christmas In April also line-up here following confidence boosting successes.
The former ran out a comfortable winner at Warwick earlier this month. While the latter was successful at the same course in May and will be having his first start for Colin Tizzard after transferring from Nicky Henderson during the summer.
Donald McCain will field Good Tradition, who ran out a comfortable winner of his penultimate start at Perth but found both a 6lb rise and step-up in class too hot to handle when finishing seventh of eight runners at Kelso last month. He will find this contest no easier.
The JP McManus owned Melody Of Scotland could only finish sixth of ten runners when sent off the 11/4 favourite at Plumpton last month, and will have to better that effort significantly to feature here. While First Assignment, who placed third in Grade 3 novice company at Sandown in March, could have more to offer following a summer at grass and warrants a market check.
Mallow Ben comfortably landed a handicap hurdle at Fontwell in September before falling at the same venue four weeks later.
Unfortunately, his mid-race departure means that we have no idea how he would have fared off his new mark of 124. Therefore the market may be the best guide as to how well he will run.
Irish raider Roi De Dubai and bottom weight Trans Express complete the field.
Cases can be made for many of these, however, AND THE NEW has plenty of scope for progress off his mark of 135, especially stepping-up in trip on his handicap debut. The form of his latest effort couldn’t have worked out much better and his seventh placed finish in the 2017 Champion Bumper demonstrates his ability to handle the track.
3.45 – THE ‘MATCHBOOK TIME TO MOVE OVER’ NOVICES’ CHASE (Class 2) 3m80y
There is no question that fan-favourite Lil Rockerfeller, who came agonising close to scoring a upset in the 2017 Stayers Hurdle, is the class act in this four-runner field.
Neil King’s tough-as-teak seven-year-old beat the promising Wenyerreadyfreddie on his fencing debut at Uttoxeter three weeks ago and could easily develop into a leading novice this winter if transferring his hurdling capabilities.
King has sent out 2 winners from his last 9 runners and you could bet your last pound that he will have his stable star primed for this contest.
Both Dan Skelton and Charlie Longsdon have also been amongst the winners of late and will be represented by Shannon Bridge and Treacle Tart respectively.
The former, who placed second behind Enniscoffey Oscar in the Grade 2 River Don Novices’ Hurdle in January, will be making his debut over fences. While the latter got off the mark at the third time of asking at Worcester last month and will be looking to put both his experience and fitness to good use.
Arctic Gold, who is yet to score in nine attempts over fences, completes the field.
Lil Rockerfeller is a wonderful servant for both connections and jumps racing as a sport. However, he is perhaps seen to best effect over intermediate trips despite his brilliant second placed effort in 2017 Stayers Hurdle. With this in mind it may be worth chancing chasing debutant SHANNON BRIDGE, who nearly won a Grade 2 novice hurdle in January. The five-year-old is bred to to make a better chaser and was victorious on reappearance 12 months ago. His stable’s good form is also reason for optimism.
4.20 – THE FOUNDATION DEVELOPMENTS LTD MAIDEN HURDLE (Class 3) 2m87y
This race is arguably the most intriguing in the as it features three hugely exciting prospects in the form of Sebastopol, Seven De Baune and Thomas Darby.
Sebastopol made a striking impression at Ayr in April when running away with a traditionally well-contested bumper following strong market support.
Tom Lacey’s exciting son of Fame And Glory ran-out an impressive winner of an English point-to-point last term and rates a hugely exciting prospect for novice hurdles this winter. His high cruising speed could could cause a few of these some problems tomorrow, especially on the forecast better ground.
Roger Brookhouse enjoyed great success in novice hurdles last winter, most notably with Supreme Novices Hurdle hero Summerville Boy and Aintree Grade 1 scorer Black Op. This year the prominent owner has another clutch of exciting youngsters to go to war with, and Seven De Baune is undoubtedly one of the most promising.
Third on his solitary start between the flags in December last year, the imposing five-year-old made an impressive start to his career under rules when recording an effortless 6 lengths success at Uttoxeter in May.
That effort came on good ground so conditions hold no fears. While his trainer, Ian Williams, has been amongst the winners of late late, which is always an encouraging sign.
Bumper winner Thomas Darby will prove popular for Olly Murphy and Richard Johnson, and rightly so given the way in which the form of his debut effort has worked out.
The runner-up, Black Kalinisi, ran out a comfortable winner of his next two starts (1 Bumper, 1 Hurdle). While the fourth, Nanny Pat’s, was also victorious on his only subsequent visit to the racetrack. Therefore much is expected of the Diana Whateley owned five-year-old this winter.
He won that bumper on good ground so conditions are no issue here, and it’s interesting that Murphy has elected to bring him to Prestbury Park so soon, which could be a tip in itself.
Bang On Frankie hasn’t been seen since chasing home Western Ryder at Chepstow last November. However, the form of that contest looks particularly solid given the subsequent exploits of the winner, which includes defeating subsequent Grade 1 scorers Lalor and Summerville Boy at Prestbury Park in December.
That effort came on heavy ground and the six-year-old is yet to encounter better ground. He could easily feature if handling conditions.
Henry Brooke has been booked to steer Lunar Jet on his debut over hurdles, and he arrives here fit following a summer spent on the flat.
Rated 83 in that sphere, the four-year-old could develop into a decent novice hurdler this winter but may be vulnerable to more experienced rivals tomorrow.
World War is another former flat performer who will be having his first start over hurdles. However, his best form on the level came on ground with plenty of cut, therefore he may find this a rude awakening.
Some Day Soon has hit the woodwork on his previous two starts – the latest being his hurdling debut – and will hope to build upon those efforts tomorrow. While former flat performer Tamayef, who was deemed good enough to take on Apple’s Shakira at Cheltenham last December, may find this a touch warm.
French bumper winner Elixir De Nutz was considered good enough to contest the Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle Trial on his british debut in January and has since been transferred from Philip Hobbs to Colin Tizzard.
The four-year-old son of Al Namix fell when holding every chance at Uttoxeter in May on his only subsequent start (when trained by Philip Hobbs) and falls into the bracket of ‘could he anything’ at this early stage of his career. The market may be the best guide as to how he may perform tomorrow.
Dan Skelton fields both Amoola Gold, who was a disappointing favourite at Uttoxeter last time out, and Falcon Sun, who has offered little encouragement on his four outings to date, here. However, both look up against it given the opposition they will face.
Primal Focus and Secret Melody may also struggle here based on the form they have displayed thus far.
This really is a fantastic race in prospect featuring three potentially very smart novice hurdlers. While I fully respect both Seven De Baune and Thomas Darby, I was very taken by SEBASTOPOL at Ayr in April and believe that he can develop into a graded novice hurdler this winter. Therefore i am hopeful that he can make a winning debut tomorrow.
4.55 – THE RYMAN STATIONARY CHELTENHAM BUSINESS CLUB AMATEUR RIDERS’ HANDICAP CHASE (Class 3) 3m1f
In-form trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies will be represented by both Another Frontier, who will be partnered by Michael Malloy, and Muckle Roe, who will be the mount of Zac Baker.
The former arrives here in good heart with form figures of 121 achieved on his last three outings, with his only defeat coming at the hoofs of subsequent Scottish Grand National winner Joe Farrell at Newbury in March. While the latter, who placed second in this grade from a 1lb higher mark in the spring, could also go well if fit enough to do himself justice.
Presenting Julio was sent off a 7/2 favourite for the corresponding contest 12 months ago and will represent the powerful partnership of Gordon Elliott and Jamie Codd once again.
The Irish raider suffered interference in-running last year and i am sure that his extremely talented jockey will go out of his way to find a clearer passage tomorrow. He undoubtedly commands respect off a 1lb lower mark.
Bells ‘N’ Banjos placed fifth in a much better contest than this at Prestbury Park last October and will line-up here off an 8lb lower mark.
Good ground brings out the best in Fergal O’Brien’s eight-year-old and it shouldn’t go unnoticed that the canny Cotswolds based handler teamed up with Aly Stirling to land this prize in 2016 with the galant Troika Steppes. Market support would be encouraging.
Neil Mulholland is responsible for last time out scorer Cornish Warrior, who beat an in-form rival in the shape of Little Windmill at Southwell, with the front pair pulling 20 lengths clear of the field.
The handicapper reacted by putting the gutsy so of Oscar up 5lb, which may underestimate just what achieved that day. However, only time will tell.
Vinegar Hill warmed up for this contest will a wholly respectable third placed finish over hurdles at Uttoxeter last month. The second won next time out to give the form a solid look, however, he is rated higher over fences and was pulled-up on his latest outing in this sphere, which does temper enthusiasm.
Former Cullentra Stables inmate Killer Crow will be the mount of Kit Alexander and could get involved if recapturing anything like the form he displayed in 2015/16 when trained by Gordon Elliott.
This will be just his third start since arriving from Ireland and he will compete from a career low rating of 112.
Goohar knows his way around Prestbury Park and could get involved for his in-form trainer Henry Daly. While Fifty Shades, who won well over 3m1f170y at Newton Abbot in July, may well be weighed up to his best at present.
Sam Red, who is a whopping 19lbs lower than when last successful at this time last year, will be the mount of 5lb claimer William Marshall.
The Dan Skelton trained seven-year-old ran some respectable races last season including a second placed effort behind the highly regarded Mount Mews, who received 12lb, at Doncaster in January. He could easily feature if running up to that level tomorrow.
Cucklington recorded a brace of soft ground victories at Wincanton in the spring before being beaten into second place off a mark 113.
Colin Tizzard’s seven-year-old could easily have more to come following a long summer break and could easily go well from the same mark he carried at Chepstow.
Asking Questions is 2-3 over fences and open to any amount of improvement for Oliver Greenhall this winter.
The six-year-old arrives here following a satisfactory return to action at Southwell two weeks ago and could easily get involved if handing the better ground.
Peter Bowen is enjoying a fine season to date and will saddle the good-ground loving Dotties Dilema in this contest tomorrow.
The evergreen son of Pierre finished the best part of 10 lengths behind the re-opposing Another Frontier at Uttoxeter three weeks ago when in search of a hat-trick following successes at Cartmel and Southwell in August and September respectively. It appears that the handicapper may have caught up with him for now.
Calin Du Brizais and Irish raider Oighear Dubh are admirably consistent but don’t win too often. While Perfect Pirate, who won nicely on his chasing debut at Towcester last November, has been disappointing since.
The often weak finishing Sporting Boy isn’t the most tempting of propositions at such a demanding course. While Robinroyale, who hasn’t shown much in three starts over fences, Sergeant Brody, who lacks experience, and Under The Phone, who has won only once from 12 outings over the larger obstacles, look up against it.
Cornish Warrior is a worthy favourite based upon his impressive success over an in-form rival at Southwell three weeks ago. However, it may pay to side with both BELLS ‘N’ BANJOS and SAM RED, who are well handicapped on their best form from last season and appear to be fair value at double figure prices.
5.30 – THE ‘MATCHBOOK BETTING PODCAST’ CONDITIONAL JOCKEYS’ HANDICAP HURDLE (Class 3) 2m87y
Magic Dancer was 2-2 at Prestbury Park last season and could still be on a good mark following a 4lb rise for a gutsy success in April.
Kerry Lee’s good ground loving six-year-old also placed seventh in the ultra-competitive Grade 3 Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle on unsuitably soft terrain at Ascot in December and, although he has never won fresh, does tend to run respectably first time out.
Lord Condi didn’t make his hurdling bow until September this year but has already notched two victories from three starts for Cotswolds based handler Martin Keighley. The promising five-year-old will make his handicap debut from a mark of 125 and should not be inconvenienced by the drop in trip as he scored over 2m1f at Plumpton last month.
Harry Stock will take a handy 3lb off the youngsters back and he must hold every chance in his bid to land a hat-trick.
The Sophie Leech trained Man Of Plenty placed second in the corresponding contest 12 months ago and could go well from a 5lb higher mark.
The experienced nine-year-old ran fifth in the Grade 3 Imperial Cup at Sandown before claiming a creditable second placed finish in a Punchestown Festival Handicap during the spring. His experience and durability are strong assets in this race.
Bryony Frost is an eye-catching jockey booking for Minellaforleisure, who’s last success came from a 1lb lower mark at Prestbury Park in April 2016. While Sunnytahliateigan, who won a brace of good ground contests in the spring, has also run well in the Cotswolds before and, therefore, should not be dismissed out of hand.
Donald McCain and Harrison Beswick team up with the hat-trick seeking four-year-old Noah And The Ark, who will make his handicap debut from a mark of 122, which may be lenient given the manner in which he dismissed his rivals at both Stratford and Kelso in September and October respectively.
Our Merlin shot up the handicap with a number of fine performances last season, scoring a hat-trick of victories in December before placing second behind Call Me Lord at Sandown and third behind the ultra-consistent Remiluc at Cheltenham in January.
Both decent ground and his rapidly-rising mark would have to be a concern here. However, his consistency is admirable and another bold effort is possible.
Storm Rising is a fascinating contender on his Stable debut for Dr Richard Newland. The son of Canford Cliffs has enjoyed a hugely productive summer on the flat with Denis Hogan in Ireland, winning at Limerick and Galway in addiction to placing second on three occasions.
The good doctor has enjoyed plenty of success with Irish recruits in recent years and could have another potentially well-handicapped youngster to go to war with this winter. Market support would be hugely encouraging.
Majestic Touch may have more to offer for after just five outings over hurdles.
The son of Kalinisi is lightly raced for his age and didn’t fair too badly last term despite his stable underperforming on the whole. He did disappoint when sent off the 6/4 favourite at Fontwell three weeks ago but could bounce back to form if granted a proper gallop.
Silver Star will be having his third start in just 14 days for Gordon Elliott.
The experienced five-year-old has won twice over timber this summer in addition running a number of respectable in defeat. He will compete from a mark 6lb higher than his Irish rating and will likely prove popular given his trainers impressive strike-rate in Britain.
Mad Jack Mytton is 1lb below his last winning mark but is getting harder to predict with each year that passes. By contrast, the vastly experienced Mister Universum is fairy consistent but looks handicapped to his best for the time being.
Irish raider Long Call hasn’t been sighted over hurdles since April 2017 but is perhaps worth a market check given his canny connections.
Conditions don’t look favourable for Seven Barrows representative Malachite, who’s solitary success to date was achieved on soft ground.
Shoal Bay, who made a promising start to his career last season, could get involved for Colin Tizzard. While Chieftains Choice, who has been running well of late but may be on a tough enough mark as a result, will also face the starter.
This ultra-competitive event can go the way of MAGIC DANCER, who was 2-2 at Cheltenham last season and returns to action off a 4lb higher mark than when successful at the April meeting. The progressive youngster has undergone a wind operation during the summer and will be greeted by ideal conditions in the Cotswolds tomorrow.
2.00 – Rocco 8/1
2.35 – One For Billy 4/1
3.10 – And The New 10/1
3.45 – Shannon Bridge 9/2
4.20 – Sebastopol 2/1
4.55 – Bells ‘N’ Banjos 16/1
Sam Red 14/1
5.30 – Magic Dancer 11/2