Cheltenham welcomes in the new season on Friday, October 26, with a host of exciting horses among the entries for day one of The Showcase, including G1 winners Kilbricken Storm, Diakali and Beat That.
Kilbricken Storm stayed on gamely to take the G1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at The Festival™ presented by Magners at Cheltenham in March and the Colin Tizzard-trained seven-year-old could make his chasing debut in the £25,000 'Matchbook Time To Move Over' Novices' Chase (3.45pm, 13 entries).
His rivals in the extended three-mile contest may include Beat That (Nicky Henderson), winner of the G1 Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree in 2014, and the 2017 G1 Stayers' Hurdle runner-up Lil Rockerfeller (Neil King), who made a winning start to his chasing career when scoring at Uttoxeter on October 7.
Trainer Stuart Edmunds is contemplating letting Now McGinty make his first appearances over fences in the same race. The seven-year-old, a full-brother to G1-winning chaser Outlander, progressed over hurdles last season, easily winning twice at Warwick before finishing a close second in the G3 Gaskells Handicap Hurdle at Aintree in April.
Buckinghamshire-based Edmunds commented: "We have entered Now McGinty at Cheltenham, but would need to see a bit of rain before letting him run.
"One of main reasons we gave him an entry was that we schooled him the other day and he was electric. He has been very good and straight - he's a full-brother to Outlander, so he shouldn't be too shabby over fences.
"He has the most beautiful action, but all his best form has come on ground with some give in it.
"He was pulled up on good going at Towcester last season, but that wasn't because of the ground as he nearly got put over the rail that day.
"Wearing cheekpieces made a massive difference to him last season and he will probably have them on again to go chasing.
"He was definitely always a chaser in the making. He's a big horse who has thrived over the summer and, like a lot of people, all we are waiting for is a bit of rain."
Ciaran Gethings would take the mount if Now McGinty lines up on Friday.
Diakali, one of 13 contenders for the £25,000 squareintheair.com Novices' Chase (2.35pm, 2m),captured a G1 hurdle at Auteuil, France, in 2013 and has started brightly over fences since switching to Gary Moore, winning both his starts impressively at Fontwell and Newton Abbot in June.
His rivals could include last season's G1 Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle runner-up Lostintranslation (Colin Tizzard) and talented hurdler Jenkins (Nicky Henderson), who made a winning debut over fences at Stratford on October 8.
Aye Aye Charlie (Fergal O'Brien) was fourth behind Lostintranslation in the G1 Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle at Aintree and the six-year-old feature among 21 contenders for the opening £20,000 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (2.00pm, 2m 5f) alongside prolific winners Yensir (Olly Murphy), Haul Away (Nicky Henderson) and Dinons (Gordon Elliott IRE).
Pat Kelly boasts a formidable record at Cheltenham, having sent out winners at The Festival™ presented by Magners for each of the past three years, and the County Galway handler has entered Lizzies Champ (10st 9lb) and Dawn Raider (11st) in the £15,400 Brandon Hill Capital Handicap Hurdle (3.10pm, 2m 5f, 44 entries).
The 37 entries for the £15,000 Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase (4.20pm, 3m 1f) include recent Uttoxeter winner Another Frontier (Nigel Twiston-Davies, 11st 10lb).
Impressive bumper winners Rhythm Is A Dancer (Paul Nicholls) and Seven De Baune (Ian Williams) headline 25 contenders for the £15,000 Foundation Developments Ltd Maiden Hurdle (4.55pm, 2m 87y).
The racing action is completed by the £15,000 'Matchbook Betting Podcast' Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (5.30pm, 2m 87y), which has 29 entries including the hat-trick seeking Symphony Of Angels (Dan Skelton), one of the four top-weights with 11st 12lb.
Day two of The Showcase takes place at Cheltenham on Saturday, October 27, with the first of the seven races at 2pm.
The Showcase offers record prize money of £370,400 across the two days in 2018 - a boost of £51,400 (16 per cent) on the £319,000 in 2017. The increase is part of the £8-million cash injection announced by The Jockey Club in December of last year.
The biggest prize money boosts at The Showcase apply to the two handicap chases run on Saturday.
The 'Matchbook Betting Exchange' Handicap Chase (2.00pm) over three miles and a furlong and the two-mile Randox Health Handicap Chase (3.10pm) both have a total prize fund of £60,000 (up from £50,000 in 2017).
SoGlos Showcase Zone - The Centaur
The Showcase will host the 'SoGlos Showcase Zone', celebrating and featuring some of Gloucestershire and the West's most well-respected food, drink and craft producers, in The Centaur
The SoGlos Showcase Zone is the perfect location to indulge in unique shopping, interactive demonstrations, as well as quality food and drink from across the region - not to mention meet the SoGlos team - at what is set to become a real autumnal highlight in Gloucestershire's social calendar.
Gloucestershire's leading lifestyle media, SoGlos has worked closely with Cheltenham Racecourse to promote world-class events in the online magazine for many years.
Attending in 2018:
Movers and Shakers
Bespoke custom mobile bars, with over two decades of hospitality and bar experience. Movers and Shakers are experts at providing custom, mobile bars with highly trained bar staff.
Polo Gin produces 100% organic gins certified by the Soil Association alongside being vegan-friendly/gluten free. Steeped in history, this proudly British, quadruple distilled, handcrafted, small batch Polo Gin uses only the best organic ingredients to create some of the most flavoursome yet smoothest of gins on the market.
The Pork Peddler
Pork Peddler' s philosophy is to use top quality local free-range meat, cooking it low and slow using smoke and fire to create unique barbecue flavours. Selling hot dogs, pulled pork, brisket and halloumi burgers.
A stylish and unique pop-up bar, stocking creative and tasty refreshments that will tantalise everyone's tastebuds.
Creating creative, specialist and bespoke metalwork ranging from sculptures, railings and art.
The Indian Guy
Selling authentic Indian street food including vegetarian and vegan options and Indian snacks, featuring both hot and cold dishes.
Unique and quirky, the Gloucester Studio and Pyromaniac Chef brand tell a story behind every food dish.
Farmers Finest Scotch Egg
Sue & Eddie Farmer welcome you to try and purchase their famous scotch eggs, deli produce and freshly made sandwiches & coffee.
Cake and Sugar Boutique
Cake and Sugarcraft Boutique have been creating beautiful cakes in Cheltenham for many years. We create wedding cakes, birthday cakes, unusual designs made to order and cupcakes in Cheltenham and the wider Gloucestershire area. We also offer popular cake making and decorating lessons.
The Curry Corner
With almost 40 years' experience, the Curry Corner has a choice of dishes, always using fresh ingredients and offering a variety of flavours.
At Windyridge, we have a flair for creating cheese flavour fusions from around the world using the finest ingredients and selecting quality cheeses from across our region. Over here in the West Country of England, we've historically always liked a hands on approach to fine artisan cheese making.
At Cotswold Riding for the Disabled, we believe that life is about what you CAN do. Our riders all have a disability whether that's physical, mental or a learning difficulty, but we are here to help them achieve the very best they can whatever the disability or whatever the age.
Furniture maker Steve Mcllveen uses attention to detail to produce beautifully crafted gifts and homeware products. The aim of Steve's workshop is to be as eco-friendly as possible. It is powered by 100% renewable energy and all waste production material is used by a local visitor attraction to power their compost toilet. All of Steve's products are made from sustainably sourced FSC approved timbers and are finished with natural oils.
Crafting intricate pebble mosaics using colours and shapes, Sue Rew can make a unique garden feature which boasts individuality.
Willow Therapy Salt Lamps
Himalayan salt lamps are decorative lights for your home that emit a warming pink glow.
The Showcase 2018 Race Programme
Friday, October 26
Time Race Distance Prize Money
2:00 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle 2m 5f £20,000
2:35 squareintheair.com Novices' Chase 1m 7f 199y £25,000
3:10 Brandon Hill Capital Handicap Hurdle (0-140) 2m 5f £15,400
3:45 'Matchbook Time To Move Over' Novices' Chase 3m 80y £25,000
4:20 Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase (0-125) 3m 1f £15,000
4:55 Foundation Developments Ltd Maiden Hurdle 2m 87y £15,000
5:30 'Matchbook Betting Podcast' Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (0-140) 2m 87y £15,000
Saturday, October 27
Time Race Distance Prize Money
2.00 'Matchbook Betting Exchange' Handicap Chase 3m 1f £60,000
2:35 Masterson Holdings Hurdle 2m 87y £40,000
3:10 Randox Health Handicap Chase 1m 7f 199y £60,000
3:45 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier) 2m 7f 208y £25,000
4:20 'Move Over To Matchbook' Novices' Chase 2m 3f 166y £25,000
4:55 Randox Health Novices' Hurdle 2m 7f 208y £15,000
5:30 The Jockey Club Ownership Syndicate Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race 2m 87y £15,000
Meeting Total £370,400