Gloucestershire trainer Tom George is likely to be well-represented at The Showcase this weekend, with Whats Happening, A Good Skin, Double Shuffle and Some Are Lucky set to run at Cheltenham’s first meeting of the new season, which takes place on Friday, October 23 & Saturday, October 24.
Whats Happening is set to bid for a second consecutive handicap chase win at Cheltenham in Saturday’s £50,000 winner.co.uk Trophy (3.20pm) over three miles and a furlong after gaining an eight-length victory over three and a half miles on his latest start at The April Meeting.
A Good Skin also ended his 2014/2015 campaign with victory at The April Meeting, when comfortably taking a novices’ limited handicap chase over an extended three miles and a furlong.
The six-year-old holds entries in both the £20,000 Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices’ Chase (3.55pm) on Friday and the £10,000 Bet And Watch at winner.co.uk Novices’ Hurdle (3.55pm) the following day.
George revealed: “We have the winner.co.uk Trophy in mind for Whats Happening, although I don’t know if the race is going to come a bit too soon for him. He’s in good form and likes good ground but it has taken plenty of work to get him ready to run.
“He likes Cheltenham, having won there at The April Meeting, and this race looks a good starting point for him. He improved at the end of last season and should be competitive off his current mark of 136. It would be great if we would carry on where we left off last season.
“A Good Skin will probably run in the novices’ chase rather than the novices’ hurdle. This will be his last chance against novices before we run him in handicap company so we are leaning towards running him over fences.
“He had a busy campaign last season – he was beaten in a bumper this time last year but kept on improving. He’s physically not a very big horse but has been working well and we are very pleased with him.”
Double Shuffle captured novices’ hurdles over an extended two miles at Newbury and Doncaster last season and the five-year-old is due to make his first appearance over fences in Saturday’s two and a half-mile £20,000 Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices’ Chase (4.30pm).
Exciting point-to-point graduate Some Are Lucky is likely to make his debut for George on the same day in the two-mile £20,000 Cheltenham Club Standard Open NH Flat Race (5.40pm).
George added: “Double Shuffle is set to run in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices’ Chase and he is a progressive horse. Chasing was always his game – he ran in a point-to-point in Ireland – and he has schooled very well.
“He is more of a stayer and two miles over fences would be too short for him. He ticks all of the right boxes – he’s a young horse who is lightly raced and should keep on improving.
“We are also running a nice horse, Some Are Lucky, in the bumper on Saturday. He has got some good point-to-point form – he was third to Petit Mouchoir, who went on to win a bumper at the Punchestown Festival – and is very straightforward.
“He’s a nice young horse and, hopefully, we will see a bit more from him over the winter.”
Cheltenham’s seven-race programme on Saturday also features the winner.co.uk Handicap Chase (2.10pm, 17 entries) over two miles and the £35,000 Masterson Holdings Hurdle (2.45pm) at a similar distance.
A seven-race card on the first day of The Showcase, Friday, October 23, includes with the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (3.20pm, 24 entries), over three miles for which the first six home qualify for the Final at The Festival, and the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2.10pm).
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: http://cheltenham.thejockeyclub.co.uk/events-tickets/whats-on/the-showcase-food-and-drink-zone
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 was 10 millimetres of rain overnight.
The forecast is for mostly dry conditions through to Saturday, with just the odd shower.
The GoingStick reading at 4.00pm today was 7.4.