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Cheltenham Showcase
Tue, Oct 18th, 2016


Future stars out to shine on day one of The Showcase at Cheltenham on Friday

Sunday, October 16, 2016 - Cheltenham's new season gets underway on Friday, October 21, with a seven-race card on day one of The Showcase that perennially produces horses to follow over the upcoming months.

Subsequent Festival winners Lac Fontana, The New One, Oh Crick, Chicago Grey and Pigeon Island have all run on the first day of Cheltenham's curtain raiser in recent years and the entries for the fixture this year include a host of exciting novice chasers and hurdlers.

Ridestan (Henry de Bromhead IRE) has already made a bright start to his chasing career and the six-year-old, who captured a G3 novice chase at Gowran Park on October 1, heads 10 entries for the £20,000 squareintheair.com Novices' Chase (2.45pm) over two miles.

Paul Nicholls is set to be represented in the same race by Marracudja, who made a winning debut over fences at Newton Abbot, while Listed Prelude Handicap Chase runner-up Presenting Arms could line up for Harry Fry.

James Ewart is looking forward to seeing Aristo Du Plessis get his chasing career underway. The six-year-old, who also holds an entry at Carlisle on Thursday, completed a hat-trick of hurdle victories last term, headed by a valuable success at Musselburgh in January, gaining a rating of 150 in the process.

Ewart, who trains in Dumfriesshire in Scotland, reported: "Aristo Du Plessis is a definite runner at either Cheltenham or Carlisle this week, although where he goes will depend on jockey arrangements and the ground. We are waiting to see which way the wind blows in terms of ground but he will run at one of the two meetings.

"He has schooled well at home - he has done his job well and seems to have adapted well - but we have to get him into a race to see whether he is going to be a proper two-mile chaser who can jump with a lot of accuracy, economy but most of all with a lot speed.

"I think he is a very nice horse, who has progressed since last year. He had a chip removed from a front fetlock and a vertebra removed to correct his kissing spine, so he has had a lot of work done over the summer.

"He is in good nick and my head lad David is convinced that he is a better horse compared to last year.

"He is not your typical chasing model - he's very muscular and stocky but, having worked with G1 chasers like Azertyioup, I know that two-miler chasers don't have to be big.

"We are hoping that, if he is a brave horse and jumps his fences as well as he jumps his hurdles, it might take him to the next level."

The extended three-mile £20,000 Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices' Chase (3.55pm) has 14 entries including recent Munster National winner Tiger Roll (Gordon Elliott IRE) and Shantou Village (Neil Mulholland), who took the G2 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at The Open last year.

El Bandit (Paul Nicholls), successful in the G2 Persian War Novices' Hurdle at Chepstow on October 9, and Warwick novices' hurdle scorer Stowaway Magic (Nicky Henderson) feature among 15 contenders for the opening £17,000 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle (2.10pm) over two miles and five furlongs.

Both of Khezerabad's (Nicky Henderson) appearances over hurdles have been in Graded company and the 96-rated Flat performer could aim to capitalise in a drop in class for the extended two-mile £10,000 Harrison James & Hardie Maiden (4.30pm), which has 17 entries.

G1 winner Ruacana (Tom Vaughan) is one of 39 entries in the £12,000 John The Jockey Club Ownership Handicap Hurdle (2m5f, 3.20pm), while further competitive action looks assured via the £12,000 Ryman Stationery Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase (3m 1f, 5.05pm, 36 entries) and the £10,000 Racing UK Conditional Jockey's Handicap Hurdle (2m 87y, 5.40pm, 29 entries).

Day two of The Showcase also includes seven races, headed by the £50,000 Randox Handicap Chase, the £50,000 Randox Health Handicap Chase and the £35,000 Masterson Holdings Hurdle.

Shantou Village set for second outing over fences at The Showcase at Cheltenham on Saturday

Monday, October 17, 2016 - Shantou Village is likely to be one of the stars on show at Cheltenham on day two of The Showcase, Saturday, October 22.

The six-year-old headlines 14 entries for the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices' Chase (4.40pm) over just short of two and a half miles and also has the option of the three-mile Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices' Chase at Cheltenham on Friday, day one.

Shantou Village created a good impression over hurdles last season, most notably when defeating Champers On Ice by 15 lengths in the G2 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham during The Open in November.

He was pulled up after being struck into at The Festival in March, but returned none the worse with an easy debut success over fences in a two mile, five-furlong novices' chase at Fontwell on August 25.

His trainer Neil Mulholland, who is based near Bath, said today: "All being well, Shantou Village will run at Cheltenham. He has got two entries across the meeting so we will go through both races and make a decision later in the week.

"I was really pleased with his reappearance at Fontwell and, bar the last, he jumped well. He was just a bit fresh coming down to it as he could have gone round again.

"We had initially planned to go back to Fontwell for another novices' chase at the end of September but we weren't 100 per cent happy with him. He just wasn't sparking so we decided to wait."

Philip Hobbs has entered talented hurdlers Brother Tedd and Duke Des Champs, while unbeaten chaser Frodon heads three entries for champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls who has won three of the last six renewals.

Cheltenham's seven-race programme on Saturday starts at 1.50pm with the first of two £50,000 chases sponsored by Randox Health, the Randox Handicap Chase over three miles and a furlong.

The 28 entries are topped by G1 scorer Holywell (Jonjo O'Neill), whose excellent course record includes two wins at The Festival and a fourth behind Coneygree in the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Bet365 Gold Cup hero The Young Master (Neil Mulholland) is also engaged along with unexposed seven-year-old Vivaldi Collonges (Paul Nicholls) and Munster National runner-up Stellar Notion (Henry de Bromhead IRE).

Irish raider Devils Bride (Henry de Bromhead IRE) could drop back to two miles for the £50,000 Randox Health Handicap Chase (3.30pm, 23 entries) after finishing third in the G2 PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park on October 1. The possible runners also include last year's winner Boondooma (Dr Richard Newland), Savello (Dan Skelton) and course scorer Fox Norton (Neil Mulholland).

El Bandit (Paul Nicholls), a gutsy winner of the G2 Persian War Novices' Hurdle at Chepstow recently, could step up to three miles for the first time in the Richard Allen, Waters & The Brittons Novices' Hurdle (2.25pm). Potential opponents include easy Warwick victor Wholestone (Nigel Twiston-Davies) and English point-to-point graduate Wotzizname (Harry Fry), who is unbeaten in two starts under Rules.

The Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (4.05pm, 32 entries) is the first in a series of qualifiers for the Pertemps Network Final at The Festival in March. Entries include Call The Cops (Nicky Henderson), winner of the final in 2015, Fingal Bay (Philip Hobbs) and recent Munster National victor Tiger Roll (Gordon Elliott IRE).

Exciting youngsters Brahms De Clermont (Paul Nicholls) and River Wylde (Nicky Henderson) feature among 30 entries for the concluding White Christmas Parties At Cheltenham Standard Open Bumper at 5.15pm.

The £35,000 Masterson Holdings Hurdle has reopened for entries until 11am tomorrow, Tuesday, October 18.

Day one of The Showcase also includes seven races. The action gets underway at 2.10pm and concludes at 5.40pm.

Away from the action on the track, racegoers will have the opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Home of Jump Racing with guided tours of the parade ring and weighing room before racing.

The Randox Health Food Zone introduced for the first time in 2014, returns to The Centaur to show off all that is great about produce from the Cotswolds.

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