Racing returns to Cheltenham Racecourse this week with The Showcase meeting taking centre stage at the Home of Jump Racing.
The Showcase, which is staged on Friday, 25 October and Saturday, 26 October, is a natural starting point for horses returning from their summer breaks and is often used in preparation for The November Meeting, which runs this year from Friday, 15 November to Sunday, 17 November inclusive.
One horse set to make his return to action at The Showcase is the exciting Al Dancer. Trained locally to Cheltenham by Nigel Twiston-Davies, the six-year-old son of Al Namix won four of his five starts over hurdles last term, which included a clear-cut victories at The International in handicap company at Cheltenham in December and the valuable G3 Betfair Hurdle at Ascot in February.
Al Dancer, who races in the familiar silks of Dai Walters, was last seen when 10th in the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle The Festival™ presented by Magners on his final start last term.
He seeks to make a winning debut over fences in the £25,000 squareintheair.com Novices' Chase (2.35pm, two miles, nine entries) on day one of the Showcase, Friday, October 25. His rivals could include G1 Unibet Champion Hurdle seventh Global Citizen (Ben Pauling), the Dan Skelton-trained Not That Fuisse and the Paul Nicholls-trained duo of Southfield Stone and Getaway Trump.
Twiston-Davies, who captured the two-mile event with Tramantano in 2007, said: “Al Dancer is in good form and is on course for The Showcase.
“We were originally going to go to Newton Abbot with him before their meeting was abandoned, but we have been happy with his preparation.
“We are looking forward to getting him started over fences and he has schooled well.”
There is £135,000 of prize money on offer for day one of The Showcase. The opening contest of the meeting, the £20,000 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (2.00pm, 2m 5f, 16 entries) has attracted 16 entries, including four-time hurdles scorer The Butcher Said (Olly Murphy), Jatiluwih (Philip Hobbs), who is unbeaten in four runs in Britain, along with recent Navan scorer Doctor Duffy for Irish handler Charles Byrnes.
The £25,000 Matchbook Most Trusted Betting Exchange Novices’ Chase (3.45pm) over an extended three miles could feature Irish raider Dinons for Gordon Elliott, a winner of three of his five starts over fences, and the progressive Go Another One, a convincing winner over fences at Worcester in September for fellow Irish handler John McConnell.
Headlining the action at The Showcase are two £60,000 handicap chases - the Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap Chase over three miles and a furlong and the Randox Health Handicap Chase over two miles - plus the £40,000 Masterson Holdings Hurdle for four-year-olds. All three races take place on Saturday, 26 October.
The going at Cheltenham is currently Good to Soft, Good in places with a mostly dry week forecast.
Among the best horses to compete at The Showcase in recent years is Tiger Roll, who won the Masterson Holdings Hurdle in 2014 and finished third in a novices' chase in 2016. The remarkable nine-year-old, trained by Gordon Elliott, has won the latest two runnings of the £1-million Randox Health Grand National and is also a four-time winner at The Festival™ presented by Magners, most recently taking the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap in 2018 and 2019.
Away from the track, the racecourse will stage its first Cheltoberfest - Cheltenham's twist on the ever-popular Oktoberfest.
The ticketed event takes place in The Centaur over both days of The Showcase and includes live German and Bavarian Oompah music from The Bierkeller Boys, a range of local real ales and Magners Cider, plus tips from a racing tipster before racing commences.
More information can be found at:
Throughout the day on Saturday, 26 October, there will be a variety of entertainment and demonstrations in The Parade Ring, available in the Club/Tattersalls Enclosure, including:
*A demonstration from the Riding for the Disabled.
*Learn about racehorse anatomy with Rachel Keeble.
*Matt Nicholls (Kim Bailey's assistant) will be talking through how to prepare a racehorse for a day at the races.
*Josh Stacey from the Racing Post will be on hand to provide a tipster talk ahead of racing.
*South West Syndicate Horses will be on parade between racing, a perfect opportunity to find out more and become part of our Syndicate - further details are available at:
As well as entertainment and demonstrations in the Parade Ring, there are stalls and stands to see in the Tattersalls Sales Arena located in the Club/Tattersalls Enclosure, including:
*Representatives from the British Racing School will be available to answer any questions for those that are interested in working in the horseracing industry. More information is available at https://brs.org.uk/
*Retraining of Racehorses will be educating racegoers on a racehorse's life after their career in racing.
*Racing to School delivers free outdoor learning activities for young people at racecourses, studs and trainers' yards across the country. They will be around to teach you how to ride a racehorse with demonstrations and the opportunity for you to have a go by riding the equisizer.
*Matt from Beltane Forge will be showcasing his talent with a live demonstration straight from the forge.