Promising novice Tikkanbar is set for another step up in class in the £32,000 G2 Ballymore Classic Novices' Hurdle over an extended two and a half miles at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day, Saturday, January 27.
Tikkanbar (Neil Mulholland) doubled his tally over hurdles last time out in the Listed Ballymore Novices' Hurdle over the same course and distance on New Year's Day, when he made all on heavy ground to beat Ainchea by a length and a half.
The seven-year-old, who runs in the colours of Mulholland's father Brian, opened his account over hurdles with a 19-length victory at Plumpton on November 20.
Neil Mulholland, who trains near Bath, said: "Tikkanbar is in good form and will have an entry in the Ballymore Classic Novices' Hurdle.
"We were very happy with his performance on New Year's Day. He is very much an unknown quantity still, but he keeps winning, which is the main thing.
"Even his run in the Aintree bumper [finished 10th on April 7, 2017] was very good because he was held up last and had boiled over before the race.
"We are enjoying him and hopefully he can continue to improve."
Since its inception in 2000, four winners of the Ballymore Classic Novices' Hurdle have doubled up at The Festival in the same season - Monsignor (2000 - G1 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle), Wichita Lineman (2007 - G1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle), Bobs Worth (2011 - G1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle) and At Fishers Cross (2013 - G1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle).
Festival Trials Day offers racegoers the final opportunity to experience action at the Home of Jump Racing before The Festival (Tuesday, March 13 to Friday, March 16 inclusive).
A fabulous seven-race programme is headlined by the £100,000 G2 BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase (2.25pm). Staged over three miles and a furlong, the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase provides clues for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup at The Festival. One Man, Master Oats, See More Business and Many Clouds feature on the race's roll of honour.
Many Clouds, who enjoyed his finest hour when winning the 2015 Grand National, will be remembered at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day with the screening of the film Many Clouds - The People's Horse.
Many Clouds - The People's Horse was produced by Equine Productions and directed by Nathan Horrocks, who rode Many Clouds in his work at home.
The film remembers the courageous Trevor Hemmings-owned gelding, who sadly passed away following his head victory over Thistlecrack in the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase on Festival Trials Day in 2017. He also won the race in 2015.
The performance of Many Clouds at Cheltenham last year saw the horse, who was ridden by Leighton Aspell throughout his career, subsequently announced as the leading staying chaser in the 2016/17 Anglo Irish Jump Classifications.
Horrocks, who picked up award for best director at the prestigious EQUUS Film Festival in New York, will feature in Q&A sessions alongside Oliver Sherwood, trainer of Many Clouds. The two Q&A sessions will take place in the winner's enclosure at 12.05pm and 2.05pm. Racegoers will be able to submit questions to Horrocks and Sherwood via Cheltenham's Twitter account @CheltenhamRaces.
Following the running of the last race at 4.10pm, Many Clouds - The People's Horse will be shown on TV screens across the racecourse.
Top-quality staying hurdle action on Festival Trials Day is provided by the £60,000 G2 galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle (3.35pm) over three miles. Past winners include Thistlecrack, Inglis Drever and Big Buck's, who all triumphed in the G1 Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle at The Festival.
The card is opened by the £32,000 G2 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (12.40pm), landed by subsequent G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle victor Defi Du Seuil in 2017, while the feature handicap of the day is the £75,000 G3 Festival Trials Handicap Chase (1.50pm).
Total prize money on Festival Trials Day has been boosted to £354,000 this year - an increase of £24,000 (seven per cent) on the 2017 level.
Accompanied children, aged under 18, are admitted FREE on Festival Trials Day, when the gates open at 10am.
Festival Trials Day - Order of running
Time Race Distance Prize Money
12.40pm JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (Grade 2) 2m 179y £32,000
1.15pm Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase 2m 4f 166y £27,500
1.50pm Festival Trials Day Trophy Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m 4f 166y £75,000
2.25pm BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase (Grade 2) 3m 1f 56y £100,000
3.00pm Ballymore Classic Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 4f 56y £32,000
3.35pm Galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 7f 213y £60,000
4.10pm Steel Plate & Sections Handicap Hurdle 2m 179y £27,500