Thursday, April 11, 2019 – Racing returns to Cheltenham next Wednesday, April 17, day one of The April Meeting.
The seven-race programme is headlined by the £60,000 G2 Cure Parkinson’s And Hambo Foundation Silver Trophy Limited Handicap Chase (2.40pm, 26 entries), staged over an extended two and a half miles and won the past by top chasers Norton’s Coin, Katabatic, Beech Road, Strong Promise, Seebald and Our Vic.
Diego Du Charmil (Paul Nicholls), a G1 winner at Aintree in 2018, is the top-rated performer among the 26 entries with a rating of 155.
Nicholls, who looks assured of an 11th Jump trainers’ title this season, is the joint-leading trainer in the Cure Parkinson’s And Hambo Foundation Silver Trophy Chase with four successes. In addition to Diego Du Charmil, he could also be represented this year by Dolos, last seen when fifth in the G3 Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury last month.
Highway One O One (Chris Gordon) is set for his third successive outing this season at the Home of Jump Racing.
The seven-year-old finished a creditable two-length second behind Kildisart in the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase on Festival Trials Day, January 26, before struggling on testing ground when 10th in the Listed Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at The Festival™ presented by Magners on March 12.
Earlier in the campaign, Highway One O One scored on his chasing debut at Newton Abbot in September and also defeated more experienced rivals in a valuable two-mile graduation chase at Carlisle in November.
Chris Gordon, who trains near Winchester, said: “Highway One O One is in good order.
“The Festival went against us ground-wise. It bucketed down with rain beforehand. He got headed after the third last and I had told Tom [Cannon, jockey] to be easy on him once his chance had gone.
“He did not have a hard race there and I was looking forward to running him at Ascot a couple of weeks ago [March 31] but the ground was a little on the quick side. The April Meeting was plan B and, provided it is safe ground on the easy side of good, he will run.
“I would be very positive about his chance. He was pushed up to a rating of 145 after Festival Trials Day and that form has been franked with Kildisart winning at Aintree last week.”
Reigning champion Jump trainer Nicky Henderson has five entries in the race, headed by G2 scorer Josses Hill. The G3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup fifth Rather Be, Casablanca Mix, Lough Derg Spirit and Wenyerreadyfreddie, successful in two novices’ handicap chases at Ascot this season, complete the quintet from Seven Barrows. Henderson won the Cure Parkinsons And Hambo Foundation Silver Trophy Limited Handicap Chase with Duc De Regniere in 2010.
Other contenders include Mister Whitaker, winner of the Listed Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at The Festival in 2018 and fourth in this season’s G3 BetVictor Gold Cup, Imperial Presence, who could return from a break having won three times last summer, and Kings Monarch (Kerry Lee), an easy winner of his latest two starts at Fontwell and Hereford.
The supporting action on Wednesday includes two £25,000 contests – the Kingston Stud Handicap Hurdle (3.15pm, 34 entries) and the Weatherite Handicap Chase (5.00pm, 16 entries).
Jenkins (Nicky Henderson) was a 151-rated performer at his best over hurdles and could revert to the smaller obstacles in the Kingston Stud Handicap Hurdle following four starts over fences this season.
Another Henderson-trained entry is Pym, who races in the same Patricia Pugh silks as the great Altior and was last seen when 11th in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at The Festival.
The Kingston Stud Handicap Hurdle could also see Le Patriote (Dr Richard Newland) makes his first appearance since landing the Scottish Champion Hurdle Trial Handicap Hurdle at Ayr in November.
Dingo Dollar (Alan King) is the likely top-weight in the Weatherite Handicap Chase, with the seven-year-old having took third on the valuable G3 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury earlier this season. G2 winner Vyta Du Roc (Nicky Henderson) and progressive mare The Bay Birch (Matt Sheppard) also feature among the entries.
Action gets underway with the CITIPOST Novices’ Hurdle (2.05pm, 22 entries) and runs through to the Pony Racing Authority Graduates Handicap Hurdle (5.30pm, 25 entries). Completing the action are the Arkells Brewery Nicholson Holman Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (3.50pm, 24 entries) and the Safran Landing Systems Handicap Hurdle (4.25pm, 37 entries).
The April Meeting continues on Thursday, April 18, with a seven-race programme exclusively for mares.
The going at Cheltenham is currently Good to Soft. Conditions are expected to remain dry and become warmer.
All action at The April Meeting takes place on the New Course.
The April Meeting 2019
First Day – Wednesday, April 17 – New Course
2.05pm CITIPOST Novices’ Hurdle 2m 4½f £20,000
2.40pm Cure Parkinson’s And Hambo Foundation Silver Trophy Chase (Limited Handicap) (Grade 2) 2m 5f £60,000
3.15pm Kingston Stud Handicap Hurdle 2m 4½f £25,000
3.50pm Arkells Brewery Nicholson Holman Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase 3m 1½f £17,500
4.25pm Safran Landing Systems Handicap Hurdle 3m £20,000
5.00pm Weatherite Handicap Chase 3m 2f £25,000
5.30pm Pony Racing Authority Graduates Handicap Hurdle 2m 1f £15,000
Second Day-Thursday, April 18 – New Course
2.05pm Glide Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed) 2m 4½f £25,000
2.40pm European Breeders Fund/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Chase Finale (Listed) 2m 5f £40,000
3.15pm Catesby Estates Plc Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Listed) 2m 4½f £25,000
3.50pm JRL Group Mares’ Handicap Chase 3m 2f £20,000
4.25pm Junior Jumpers 4-Y-O Fillies’ Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 1f £40,000
4.55pm Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Mares’ Handicap Chase 2m £25,000
5.30pm Spreadex Sports Betting Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race 2m 1f £15,000
The April Meeting falls during the Easter Holidays this year and there is plenty to keep the children occupied on Thursday, April 18 when the Tattersalls Sales Arena will be transformed into a Family Fun Zone. Free activities on offer include face painting, walking pet balloons, rosette making and colouring in, as well as the opportunity to ride an equiciser.
There are also 800 free Easter eggs up for grabs, so racegoers should arrive early as they are on a first come, first served basis. Children aged 18 and under are admitted for free when accompanied by a full-paying adult. The children’s activities and free Easter eggs are for children in the Club and Tattersalls enclosures