Cheltenham’s new season continues on Saturday, October 27th, day two of The Showcase, with a fascinating seven-race card including a pair of £60,000 handicap chases.
Leading Somerset-based handler Paul Nicholls has enjoyed a good start to the 2018/19 Jump season, which included a quickfire double at Kempton Park yesterday.
The 10-time champion Jump trainer has entries for day two of The Showcase, Cheltenham’s opening meeting, spearheaded by Modus, who could line up alongside stablemate Tommy Silver in the £60,000 Randox Health Handicap Chase (3.10pm, 13 entries) over two miles.
Eight-year-old Modus, who is owned by J P McManus, was successful in three contests over fences last season before finishing eighth in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and fifth in the Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree.
Tommy Silver put up his best performances last season when winning a beginners’ chase at Leicester and finished third in the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park over Christmas.
Nicholls reported today: “Modus has been in good form at home and, with the ground as it is at the moment, Cheltenham on Saturday is a possibility.
“He stays further than two miles, but he likes decent ground and that’s where he could start.
“Tommy Silver’s in good form and we’ll stick to chasing again with him this year.
“He’s only a six-year-old and is still improving. He could start at Cheltenham as he’s ready to run.”
The 13 entries for the Randox Health Handicap Chase also include last year’s winner Foxtail Hill (Nigel Twiston-Davies) plus Bigmartre (Harry Whittington), and Doitforthevillage (Paul Henderson), successful last season over the course and distance at The November Meeting.
Several of the entries have been busy already this season, with Penny Jane (Gordon Elliott IRE), Vosne Romanee (Dr Richard Newland) and Lillington (Colin Tizzard) all having won twice already.
The other £60,000 handicap chase is the opening ‘Matchbook Betting Exchange’ Handicap Chase (2.00pm, 26 entries) over three miles and a furlong.
The weights are likely to be headed by Minella Rocco (Jonjo O’Neill), runner-up to Sizing John in the 2017 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, while also engaged are the first three horses home in this race 12 months’ ago – Cogry (Nigel Twiston-Davies), Singlefarmpayment (Tom George) and Doing Fine (Neil Mulholland).
Reigning champion Jump trainer Nicky Henderson has a pair of entries in Laurium and Baden, both successful last time out, while another possible starter is Domesday Book (Stuart Edmunds), triumphant in the 2017 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase at The Festival™ presented by Magners.
Another highlight on day two of The Showcase is the £40,000 Masterson Holdings Hurdle (2.35pm, 12 entries), staged over two miles for four-year-olds.
A fascinating contest is in prospect with the entries headed by We Have A Dream (Nicky Henderson), who is unbeaten in five starts since arriving in the UK and was successful last season in top company at Chepstow and Aintree.
Another exciting Masterson Holdings Hurdle entry is Redicean (Alan King), while Gumball (Philip Hobbs) was runner-up in to We Have A Dream at Aintree.
Nicholls in planning to be represented in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle by filly Malaya, who was successful in the 2017/18 campaign in Listed company at Wetherby and in a valuable handicap at Ascot.
Nicholls said: “Malaya had an infection in her foot and that has put us behind slightly as we were going to novice chasing straight away.
“She could start over hurdles on Saturday and then go over fences at some stage this season.”
Nicholls could also saddle Amour De Nuit in the £25,000 ‘Move Over To Matchbook’ Novices’ Chase (4.20pm, 14 entries) over two miles and four furlongs.
The six-year-old son of Azamour was successful on his latest start when landing a novice event at Kempton in May and is one of two possible runners in the race for the trainer along with Movewiththetimes, who finished fourth in the contest last year.
Nicholls continued: “Amour De Nuit is another horse who likes fast ground, so we’re looking at The Showcase with him.
“He’ll stay over fences and this meeting has been the plan.”
The three horses owned by the Cheltenham & South West region of The Jockey Club Syndicate – Hes No Trouble (Kim Bailey), Carolines Charm (Neil Mulholland) and Diamond River (Nicky Henderson) – will be paraded at 1.15pm in the paddock on day two of The Showcase.
The Showcase gets underway on Friday, October 26th, with a seven-race card running from 2.00pm to 5.30pm.