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Cheltenham Festival

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2019 Cheltenham Showcase Meeting: Trainer Quotes

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Posted in: Cheltenham Festival News

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The Jump season cranks up a notch on Friday with an excellent card at Cheltenham on day one of The Showcase.

The clash of the day, on paper at least, sees Al Dancer (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies) and Getaway Trump (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden) go head to head on their respective chasing debuts in the £25,000 Novices' Chase (2.35pm, four runners) over two miles.

Both six-year-olds landed valuable prizes over hurdles last season. Al Dancer captured the rearranged Betfair Hurdle at Ascot in February while Getaway Trump signed off with a commanding success under top-weight in the bet365 Novices' Championship Final Handicap Hurdle at Sandown Park on the final day of the season. 

A select line-up also features northern raider Caius Marcius (Nicky Richards/Brian Hughes), who has won his last two starts at Newton Abbot in good style.

Wholestone (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Daryl Jacob), a multiple G2-winning hurdler at the Home of Jump Racing, bids for his second success from as many starts over fences in the (3:45pm) Novices' Chase (3m 80y, eight runners). 

Irish raider Dinons (Davy Russell), one of three runners on the card for trainer Gordon Elliott, and Rockpoint (Colin Tizzard/Robbie Power), who both scored over hurdles at Cheltenham last season, are among the opposition.

Classy bumper performer Master Debonair (Colin Tizzard/Robbie Power) faces 11 rivals on his hurdling debut in the £15,000 Foundation Developments Ltd Maiden Hurdle (4.20pm) over an extended two miles.

Master Debonair defeated recent G2 victor Thyme Hill in a Listed bumper at The November Meeting and then ended last season with a creditable fifth in the G2 Weatherbys Racing Bank bumper at Aintree's Grand National Festival.

Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father, said: "Master Debonair is in good form and it has been the plan to go for this race.

"He was making a noise at the end of last season, so we have done his wind and we are happy with him.

"He shows plenty of pace and could well be a Supreme Novices' Hurdle horse.

"He has had plenty of schooling, and we think he is one of our most exciting novices for the season ahead."

The 12 runners also include promising French imports Fred (Nicky Henderson/Daryl Jacob) and Cap Du Mathan (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden), who are both making their British debuts, plus unbeaten mare Getariver (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton).

Ireland has two in-form contenders in the opening race of The Showcase, the £20,000 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (2.00pm, eight runners) over two miles and five furlongs.

Gordon Elliott saddles Braid Blue (Richard Johnson), who is chasing a five-timer following wins at Perth and Ffos Las during the summer, while the Charles Byrnes-trained Doctor Duffy (Davy Russell) comes into the race on the back of a comfortable victory at Navan on 28 September.

The home challenge is led by second season novice Champagne Well (Fergal O'Brien/Paddy Brennan), who finished sixth in a G1 contest at Aintree on his latest start, and eye-catching bumper scorer L'Air Du Vent (Colin Tizzard/Robbie Power).

A field of 19 go in the £16,800 Two Farmers Crisps Handicap Hurdle (3.10pm) over two miles and five furlongs, the first of three handicaps on the card.

Local trainer Martin Keighley is hoping for a bold showing from Back On The Lash (Patrick Cowley (5), 11st)), who like some of his rivals is already on the scoresheet this season having captured a handicap hurdle at Exeter on 10 October.

Keighley, who is based at Condicote, said: "Back On The Lash produced a tough performance to win at Exeter.

"He isn't overly big, but he jumped for fun that day and simply doesn't know when he is beaten.

"He runs well fresh, so it was good for him to win first time up. This is another step up and it is only a two-week gap between Exeter and Cheltenham.

"However, he seems in good form at home and the step up to two miles and five furlongs should be in his favour - hopefully he can run well."

Charles Byrnes and Davy Russell team up with The Big Galloper (10st 11lb), who was well-backed when shedding his maiden tag in a maiden hurdle at Roscommon on 30 September.



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£24.00 Chris Grant's profit to a £1 level stake with hurdlers off for over a year (saddles ZAKETY ZAK)
20% Brian Hughes's strike rate at NEWCASTLE (rides PETITE GANACHE)
21% Nicky Richards's strike rate in early season (saddles PETITE GANACHE)