Cheltenham Showcase Day 1
Fri, Oct 23rd, 2015
Thursday, October 22, 2015 - Irish handler Jessica Harrington runs Rock The World and prolific hurdler Sandymount Duke at Cheltenham on day one of The Showcase, tomorrow, Friday, October 23.
Rock The World (Barry Geraghty) features among a small but select field for the £20,000 squareintheair.com Novices' Chase (2.45pm, four runners) over two miles. The seven-year-old was a progressive novice hurdler last season and has made a smooth transition to fences with two wins and three seconds from five outings.
Running in the famous colours of Michael Buckley, he scored by 18 lengths at Ballinrobe in May and registered the biggest success of his career when out-battling The Game Changer in a Grade Three contest at Galway on September 8.
He suffered an odds-on defeat on his latest outing in a two and a half mile novice chase at Listowel on September 20.
Harrington said: "Rock The World is in great order. The ground was too soft for him in Listowel and he has a nice 30-odd day break since then.
"He seems quite versatile as he has done his winning over two miles and two and a quarter. He was entered in two races and we have decided to drop back in trip because it is a strong two miles in Cheltenham."
Rock The World's rivals include chasing debutant Qewy (John Ferguson/Aidan Coleman), who was fifth in last season's Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at The Festival, and promising compatriot Sizing Codelco (Henry de Bromhead/Johnny Burke). Three-time chase victor Dormello Mo (Paul Nicholls/Sam Twiston-Davies) completes the line-up.
Harrington and Geraghty also team up with Sandymount Duke in the opening £17,000 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle (2.10pm, seven runners) over two miles and five furlongs. The six-year-old was a revelation over hurdles, winning four on the bounce, before blotting his copybook in a novice hurdle won by Exxaro (Henry de Bromhead/Johnny Burke) at Killarney on August 22.
His winning streak included a half-length beating of subsequent Listed scorer Daisy's Gift in a three-mile hurdle at Tipperary on July 19 and a front-running success at the Galway festival 11 days later.
Harrington continued: "Sandymount Duke is in great form. It is hard enough winning four races in a row, let alone five, and I think that is why he was below par at Killarney.
"I gave him a break after that and he is ready to go again. He stays three miles but has won over two and a half and run well over two so the trip will be fine."
There is further Irish interest courtesy of Gordon Elliott's Navan scorer Casual Approach (Richard Johnson). The home challenge is led by high-class Flat performer Penglai Pavilion (John Ferguson/Aidan Coleman) who has cruised to two facile victories over obstacles.
Laurium (Nicky Henderson/David Bass), Oh Land Bloom (Neil King/Trevor Whelan) and Irish import Robin Of Locksley (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton) also run.
Unbeaten chaser Ballykan (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Daryl Jacob) bids for a three-timer in the £20,000 Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices' Chase (3.55pm, seven runners) over three miles and a furlong. He will face stiff competition from course and distance scorer A Good Skin (Tom George/Paddy Brennan), Irish challenger Shantou Flyer (Colin Bowe/Mark Walsh), Vincente (Paul Nicholls/Sam Twiston-Davies) and impressive Worcester victor Vintage Vinnie (Rebecca Curtis/Leighton Aspell).
There is also quality handicap action courtesy of the £20,000 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (3.20pm, 12 runners) and the £10,000 Harrison James & Hardie Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (5.40pm, 11 runners), in which former Festival hero Savello carries top-weight on his debut for Dan Skelton.
Cheltenham's seven-race programme on Saturday, October 24, features two £50,000 handicap chases and the £35,000 Masterson Holdings Hurdle (2.45pm).
The Showcase has moved a week later this year so as not to clash with QIPCO British Champions Day.
Away from the high-class 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 Showcase food and drink zone, introduced for the first time in 2014, returns to The Centaur to show off all that is great about the food and drink produced in the Cotswolds.
A full list of the stands can be found here:
Various areas of Cheltenham's exciting new £45-million grandstand, which is being named after The Princess Royal who is opening it on Friday, November 13, will be in use at The Showcase, including the Vestey Bar, the Annual Members Bar, the Owners and Trainers Bar and The Cotswolds Club. In addition, the 11 private boxes will be in use as well as the Royal Box.
The going at Cheltenham is Good (watered). There is selective watering to maintain.
The forecast is for mostly dry conditions through to Saturday, with just the odd shower.
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