Cheltenham welcomes in the new season on Friday, October 26th, with a host of exciting horses among the entries for day one of The Showcase, including Kilbricken Storm, Diakali and Beat That.
Kilbricken Storm stayed on gamely to take the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March and the Colin Tizzard-trained seven-year-old could make his chasing debut in the £25,000 ‘Matchbook Time To Move Over’ Novices’ Chase (3.45pm, 13 entries).
His rivals in the extended three-mile contest may include Beat That (Nicky Henderson), winner of the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in 2014, and the 2017 Stayers’ Hurdle runner-up Lil Rockerfeller (Neil King), who made a winning start to his chasing career when scoring at Uttoxeter on October 7th.
Trainer Stuart Edmunds is contemplating letting Now McGinty make his first appearances over fences in the same race. The seven-year-old, a full-brother to chaser Outlander, progressed over hurdles last season, easily winning twice at Warwick before finishing a close second in the Gaskells Handicap Hurdle at Aintree in April.
Buckinghamshire-based Edmunds commented: “We have entered Now McGinty at Cheltenham, but would need to see a bit of rain before letting him run.
“One of main reasons we gave him an entry was that we schooled him the other day and he was electric. He has been very good and straight – he’s a full-brother to Outlander, so he shouldn’t be too shabby over fences.
“He has the most beautiful action, but all his best form has come on ground with some give in it.
“He was pulled up on good going at Towcester last season, but that wasn’t because of the ground as he nearly got put over the rail that day.
“Wearing cheekpieces made a massive difference to him last season and he will probably have them on again to go chasing.
“He was definitely always a chaser in the making. He’s a big horse who has thrived over the summer and, like a lot of people, all we are waiting for is a bit of rain.”
Ciaran Gethings would take the mount if Now McGinty lines up on Friday.
Diakali, one of 13 contenders for the £25,000 squareintheair.com Novices’ Chase (2.35pm, 2m),captured a big hurdle at Auteuil, France, in 2013 and has started brightly over fences since switching to Gary Moore, winning both his starts impressively at Fontwell and Newton Abbot in June.
His rivals could include last season’s Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle runner-up Lostintranslation (Colin Tizzard) and talented hurdler Jenkins (Nicky Henderson), who made a winning debut over fences at Stratford on October 8th.
Aye Aye Charlie (Fergal O’Brien) was fourth behind Lostintranslation in the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree and the six-year-old feature among 21 contenders for the opening £20,000 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (2.00pm, 2m 5f) alongside prolific winners Yensir (Olly Murphy), Haul Away (Nicky Henderson) and Dinons (Gordon Elliott IRE).
Pat Kelly boasts a formidable record at Cheltenham, having sent out winners at The Festival™ presented by Magners for each of the past three years, and the County Galway handler has entered Lizzies Champ (10st 9lb) and Dawn Raider (11st) in the £15,400 Brandon Hill Capital Handicap Hurdle.
The 37 entries for the £15,000 Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase (4.20pm, 3m 1f) include recent Uttoxeter winner Another Frontier (Nigel Twiston-Davies, 11st 10lb).
Impressive bumper winners Rhythm Is A Dancer (Paul Nicholls) and Seven De Baune (Ian Williams) headline 25 contenders for the £15,000 Foundation Developments Ltd Maiden Hurdle.
The racing action is completed by the £15,000 ‘Matchbook Betting Podcast’ Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, which has 29 entries including the hat-trick seeking Symphony Of Angels (Dan Skelton), one of the four top-weights with 11st 12lb.
Day two of The Showcase takes place at Cheltenham on Saturday, October 27th, with the first of the seven races at 2pm.