Cheltenham’s new season gets underway on Friday, October 18 with day one of The Showcase, featuring an excellent seven-race programme.
Sizing Europe has been a stalwart at Cheltenham in recent seasons, memorably winning the 2010 Racing Post Arkle Chase and the 2011 BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase at The Festival.
His trainer, County Waterford-based Henry de Bromhead, is set to be represented in the £20,000 Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices’ Chase (3.50pm) by Sizing Symphony, who like Sizing Europe runs in the colours of Ann and Alan Potts.
The seven-year-old son of Sadler’s Wells was a smart novice hurdler two seasons ago, when his three victories included the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs at The Showcase. After being forced to miss last season, he made light of a 597-day absence when successful in a beginners’ chase over two and a half miles at Tipperary on July 21 before finishing third in a similar contest at Listowel on September 17.
De Bromhead said: “Sizing Symphony is in good form. He is a good ground horse and it was too soft for him last time at Listowel. Andrew (Lynch) said he hated the ground and did not jump as well as he usually can.
“We are hoping he will be better for the better ground at Cheltenham tomorrow and also hoping that the step up in trip will suit him.
“His win at Tipperary was lovely and he looks an exciting prospect. We were always aiming for this race with him and hopefully he will give a good account of himself. He has won at Cheltenham before, having taken the novice hurdle over two miles and five furlongs at this meeting two years ago.”
Sizing Symphony will again be partnered by Andrew Lynch and faces eight rivals over an extended three miles, including According To Trev, who is unbeaten in two starts over fences for local handler Nigel Twiston-Davies and Pantxoa, successful on his latest three starts for Alan King.
The action starts at 2.10pm with the £17,000 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs. The six runners include Cloud Brook, trained by Rebecca Curtis and owned by the race sponsor’s chief executive Robin Geffen. The gelding was an impressive bumper winner at Bangor on October 3. Last year’s renewal of this race went to the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained The New One, who went on to land the Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Chase at The Festival. This year Twiston-Davies is represented by Pure Science, who was sixth in the Grade One Weatherbys Champion Bumper at The Festival last season.
The £20,000 Cheltenham Annual Members Novices’ Chase (2.40pm) over two and a half miles, includes Irish raider Rebel Fitz from the stable of Michael Winters. Rebel Fitz has won his last five starts, including a Grade Three event at Tipperary last time out.
A maximum field of 20 goes to post in the three-mile Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (3.15pm), the first qualifier for the final of the Pertemps Network Series which takes place at The Festival in March. The line-up includes last year’s Grand National fifth Rare Bob, trained in Ireland by Dessie Hughes.
The remaining races on the card are the £10,000 Jack Dee Here On 31st OctoberMaiden Hurdle (4.25pm, 11 runners), the Fine & Country North Cotswolds Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase (5.00pm, 16 runners) and the concluding Rewards4Racing Rewarding Your Passion Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (5.30pm, 12 runners).