Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - Tomorrow is day two of The April Meeting at Cheltenham with a seven-race programme exclusively for fillies and mares running from 2.05pm through to 5.30pm.
A pair of £40,000 contests take centre stage, including the Listed EBF/Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Mares' Novices' Handicap Chase Final (2.40pm, seven runners) over an extended two and a half miles. To qualify for this contest, mares must have finished in the first eight of any of the series qualifiers prior to April 12.
Heading the weights on 11st 12lb is Kupatana (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden), a hugely-impressive 18-length winner of a qualifier for the series last time out at Kelso on March 23.
Nicholls celebrates his 57th birthday today and is closing in on an 11th Jump trainers' championship. He is also just one winner shy of 3,000 domestic Jump successes.
Graceful Legend (Ben Case/Max Kendrick (5), 11st 5lb) was also a winner last time out while Little Miss Poet (Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson 11st 5lb) has amassed a win and two seconds from three starts so far over fences.
Trainer Dan Skelton is fast-approaching 200 winners for the season and relies on Desirable Court (Harry Skelton, 11st 4lb), who comes into tomorrow's contest on the back of two successes at Leicester.
Majestic Moll (Emma Lavelle/Adam Wedge, 11st 4lb) has not been seen out since winning a qualifier at Huntingdon on November 24 and earlier in the campaign scored twice at Worcester, taking a handicap hurdle in August and another series qualifier in October.
Wiltshire-based Lavelle reported today: "Majestic Moll has had a winter holiday since her win at Huntingdon last time out.
"This race was always her target when she came back. She is a mare that definitely needs good ground and so that will hopefully work out for her at Cheltenham.
"She is very tough and honest and we will see what happens tomorrow."
Lavelle enjoyed the biggest success of her career at The Festival™ presented by Magners last month when Paisley Park landed the G1 Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle. The Andrew Gemmell-owned seven-year-old is set to parade at 1.20pm tomorrow and will be joined by G1 Ryanair Chase victor Frodon. Owned by Paul Vogt and trained by Paul Nicholls in Somerset, Frodon became the first G1 chase winner at The Festival to be partnered by a female jockey when he came home in front under Bryony Frost.
Giving an update on her stable star, Lavelle continued: "Paisley Park is coming back to have another look around Cheltenham!
"He is actually far too well at the moment and trying to keep all four feet on the ground is going to be the key thing tomorrow.
"He has had to stay cantering at home because he was still just so fresh.
"It will be lovely for him to have a trip to the races tomorrow without actually running. As long as he doesn't enjoy too much it will be fine and set him nicely for when he goes on his summer break."
The second £40,000 contest tomorrow is the G3 Junior Jumpers Fillies' Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.25pm, 11 runners). Miranda (Paul Nicholls/Mr Bryan Carver (7), 11st 12lb) heads the weights following a pair of easy victories at Ludlow and Wincanton while the three Irish-trained challengers are headed by Havingagoodtime (Henry de Bromhead/Rachael Blackmore), a winner at Fairyhouse in December before finishing a good fourth to subsequent G3 Boodles Juvenile Handicap hero Band Of Outlaws at Naas in February.
Action gets underway at 2.05pm with the £25,000 Listed Glide Mares' Novices' Hurdle over an extended two and a half miles in which three-time Listed winner Posh Trish (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden), owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, tops the seven runners.
There is further Listed action courtesy of the £25,000 Catesby Estates PLC Mares' Handicap Hurdle (3.15pm, 16 runners), where Her Majesty The Queen has a representative in Sunshade (Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville), a promising fifth on her seasonal return at Newbury last month.
Completing the action are the £20,000 JRL Group Mares' Handicap Chase (3.50pm, eight runners), the £25,000 Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Mares' Handicap Chase (4.55pm, eight runners) and the concluding £20,000 Spreadex Sports Betting Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (5.30pm, 18 runners).
The ground at Cheltenham is currently Good, with temperatures set to reach 16 degrees Celsius today and 18 degrees Celsius tomorrow. The April Meeting kicks off today, with a seven-race programme running from 2.05pm through to 5.30pm.
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.