Cheltenham is set for a thrilling day's racing tomorrow with the two feature handicap chases - the £50,000 randoxhealth.com Handicap Chase and the £50,000 Randox Health Handicap Chase - both attracting 16 runners on day two of The Showcase, Saturday, October 28.
Trainer Neil Mulholland is hoping the drop back in trip will not inconvenience course scorer Doing Fine (Noel Fehily, 10st 9lb) in the randoxhealth.com Handicap Chase (2.00pm, 3m 1f). he nine-year-old captured a three and a half mile handicap chase in good style at The April Meeting, before ending his campaign later the same month with a fast-finishing fifth in the G3 bet365 Gold Cup over a furlong further at Sandown Park.
Doing Fine has race fitness on his side, having finished fourth on his comeback in a three and a quarter mile handicap hurdle at Fontwell on October 6.
Mulholland, who trains near Bath, said today: "Doing Fine has come out of Fontwell very well. We were very pleased with his first run of the season.
"He won around Cheltenham last season and seems to like the course there, so we are hopeful that he can be competitive.
"If the race was three and a half miles tomorrow, we would be even happier, but it's not.
"We will have to bear that in mind and perhaps have him a bit handier in the second half of the race. We are hoping he can make up into a Grand National horse this season."
Coologue (Charlie Longsdon, 10st 12lb) and champion Jump jockey Richard Johnson combined to win this race last year and go again from the same handicap rating of 140.
Trainer Colin Tizzard is doubly represented by fellow course scorer Viconte Du Noyer (Bryan Cooper, 11st 8lb) and lightly-raced eight-year-old Robinsfirth (Robbie Power, 11st), while Philip Hobbs, who has won this race five times since 2008, relies on Lamb Or Cod (Tom O'Brien, 10st 2lb).
Singlefarmpayment (Tom George/Adrian Heskin, 11st 4lb) was just touched off by Un Temps Pour Tout in the G3 Ultima Handicap Chase at The Festival in March on his latest start, while Perfect Candidate (Fergal O'Brien/Conor Shoemark, 11st 12lb), also locally trained, has won twice at Cheltenham, but has to defy top-weight.
High-class chaser Vaniteux (Tom Scudamore, 11st 12lb), now trained by David Pipe, heads the weights for the Randox Health Handicap Chase (3.10pm). The two-mile contest was won in great style by Fox Norton 12 months ago.
There are two Irish raiders courtesy of Some Plan (Henry de Bromhead/Andrew Lynch, 11st), who was a G1 scorer in fortunate circumstances at Leopardstown in January, and Mr Fiftyone (Jessica Harrington/Robbie Power, 10st 5lb).
The home challenge also includes Double W's (Malcolm Jefferson/Brian Hughes, 10st 10lb), winner of the G3 Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree in the spring, course scorers Le Prezien (Paul Nicholls/Barry Geraghty, 10st 12lb) and Foxtail Hill (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies, 10st 8lb), plus last year's runner-up Sizing Platinum (Colin Tizzard/Bryan Cooper, 11st 2lb).
The highlight over the smaller obstacles is the two-mile £35,000 Masterson Holdings Hurdle (2.35pm, four runners) for four-year-olds, in which Bedrock (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton) sets the standard with a rating of 144 after wide margin triumphs at Warwick and Bangor.
Dan Skelton and Davy Russell team up with Two Taffs in the £25,000 Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices' Chase (4.20pm) over two and a half miles. The seven-year-old was third in the Listed Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase at The Festival before ending his season with a first victory over fences in a Listed handicap chase at Ayr on April 21.
Two Taffs faces stiff opposition from prolific summer jumpers Alcala (Paul Nicholls/Sam Twiston-Davies) and Midnight Shot (Charlie Longsdon/Johnny Burke) among a six-strong field.
Robbin'Hannon (Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson) and Calett Mad (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Daryl Jacob), both rated 142 over hurdles, clash in the Junior Jumpers Novices' Hurdle (4.55pm, six runners) over three miles. Calett Mad's connections took the spoils last year with Wholestone.
Cheltenham's seven-race programme is completed by the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (3.45pm, 19 runners) and the concluding Jockey Club Venues Standard Open Bumper (5.30pm, 14 runners).
The Showcase gets underway today with a seven-race programme starting at 2.00pm.
The going at Cheltenham is Good (watered).
As well as all the action on the track, racegoers will also be able to get behind the scenes of "The Sport of Kings" at The Showcase. There will be guided tours of the Parade Ring and Weighing Room before racing.
Tours will take place approximately every half an hour, starting from The Plaza, once gates have opened, up until half an hour before the first race.
The Showcase Food & Drink Zone, staged for the first time in 2014, returns to The Centaur to demonstrate all that is great about the food and drinks producers of the Cotswolds.
The racecourse sits in the heart of the Cotswolds and there are many amazing elements of the region that will be celebrated in The Showcase Food & Drink Zone.
Stands include those from local companies such as Pie And Might Pies, The Old Chapel Fudge Company and Severn Cider.
A full list of stands can be found here:
Friday, October 27
2.00 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle Race 2m 5f £20,000
2.35 squareintheair.com Novices' Chase 2m £25,000
3.10 Brandon Hill Capital Handicap Hurdle (0-140) 2m 5f £12,000
3.45 Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices' Chase 3m ½f £25,000
4.20 Joel Dommett Here On 6th April Centaur Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase (0 -125) 3m 1f £12,000
4.55 Foundation Developments Ltd Maiden Hurdle 2m ½f £10,000
5.30 Experience The Theatre at The Festival Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (0-140) 2m ½f £10,000
Saturday, October 28
2.00 randoxhealth.com Handicap Chase 3m 1f £50,000
2.35 Masterson Holdings Hurdle 2m ½f £35,000
3.10 Randox Health Handicap Chase 2m £50,000
3.45 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle 3m £25,000
4.20 Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices' Chase 2m 4f £25,000
4.55 Junior Jumpers The Showcase Novices' Hurdle 3m £10,000
5.30 Jockey Club Venues Standard Open NH Flat Race 2m ½f £10,000