Cheltenham's October meeting, the first of the new season at the Home Of Jump Racing, was renamed The Showcase in 2007 and went into a Friday/Saturday slot for the first time after being run in mid-week previously.
The Showcase used to clash with British Champions Day, but moved a week later for the first time in 2015.
The popular two-day meeting, which offers record total prize money of £375,000 in 2019 (up from the £370,400 in 2018), is the natural starting point for horses returning from their summer breaks and is often used in preparation for The November Meeting (Friday, November 15 - Sunday, November 17 inclusive) at Cheltenham.
The Saturday card of The Showcase is headlined by two £60,000 handicap chases, starting with the Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap Chase (2.00pm) over three miles and a furlong.
Cheltenham specialist Balthazar King, trained by Philip Hobbs, landed the spoils three years on the bounce in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Balthazar King won eight times in all at Cheltenham and gained the biggest victory of his career in the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase at The Festival™ presented by Magners in 2014.
Midnight Chase was successful in the 2010 'Matchbook Betting Exchange' Handicap Chase and the Neil Mulholland-trained gelding proved to be a real star at Cheltenham throughout the 2010/11 season, also capturing valuable handicaps at The November Meeting and The International (in December) before finishing that campaign with a fine fifth in the G1 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Midnight Chase, whose first Cheltenham win came in a novice chase in April, 2010, enjoyed a fifth and final victory at Cheltenham in the G2 Cotswold Chase in January, 2012.
The second £60,000 contest on The Showcase Saturday is the Randox Health Handicap Chase (3.10pm) over two miles. Run over half a mile further until 2015, the race served as a trial for the £160,000 feature chase at The November Meeting, the BetVictor Gold Cup. Johns Spirit (2013 - trained by Jonjo O'Neill), Shooting Light (2001 - trained by Martin Pipe) and The Outback Way (1999 - trained by Venetia Williams) won both.
Since the change in distance, both Rock The World (11th in 2016) and Le Prezien (2nd in 2017) have used the race as a stepping-stone to victory in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase at The Festival™later in the season.
Fox Norton, winner of the Randox Health Handicap Chase in 2016, established himself as a top-class chaser, finishing second to Special Tiara in the G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at The Festival™before landing G1 contests at Aintree and Punchestown.
The £40,000 Masterson Holdings Hurdle (2.35pm), inaugurated in 2009 and also run on Saturday, October 26, is a conditions race, providing four-year-olds with an opportunity to compete against their own age group before being pitched into all-age company. Tiger Roll won the Masterson Holdings Hurdle in 2014 and finished third in a novices' chase at The Showcase 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™, most recently taking the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap in 2018 and 2019. Sceau Royal, the impressive winner of the Masterson Holdings Hurdle in 2016, won the G2 Stan James Elite Hurdle at Wincanton the following month, and has gone on to G1 glory over fences.
The Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (3.45pm, Saturday) is the first in the series of qualifiers for the Pertemps Network Final at The Festival™ on Thursday, March 12, 2020.
Wholestone won the three-mile Randox Health Novices' Hurdle (4.20pm Saturday) in 2016 and has since captured three G2 hurdles at Cheltenham. He also finished third in both the 2017 G1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle and 2018 G1 Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle at The Festival™.
The Showcase's final race is Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Standard Open NH Flat Race (5.30pm). In 2006, this extended two-mile NH Flat race went to subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Imperial Commander, while 2014 winner Moon Racer followed up with victory in the G1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at The Festival™ the following year.
Day One of The Showcase, Friday, October 25, commences with the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (2.00pm) over two miles and five furlongs, which is the first contest on the Road to Cheltenham series of races that culminates with the G1 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle over the same course and distance at The Festival™on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
The New One took both races in the 2012/13 season for Gloucestershire trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and his jockey son Sam. The other races in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle series take place at Cheltenham on Friday, November 15; Sandown Park on Friday, December 6; Cheltenham on Wednesday, January 1, 2020; Warwick on Saturday, January 11, 2020 and Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day, Saturday, January 25, 2020.
Black Corton, successful in 2017 for rising star rider Bryony Frost in the £25,000 Matchbook Most Trusted Betting Exchange Novices' Chase (3.45pm) over an extended three miles, won a total of eight races that season for trainer Paul Nicholls, with Frost aboard for seven of those. The Showcase win was the horse's fifth of the season and he went to succeed at The November Meeting before gaining victory in the G1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton Park and taking a G2 at Ascot.
The Foundation Developments Ltd Maiden Hurdle (4.20pm Friday) has been won by some classy performers. Snap Tie (2007) and Thomas Darby (2018), both owned by Diana Whateley, finished third and second in the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at The Festival™ later in their respective campaigns. The 2012 winner Court Minstrel capped a good novice campaign by landing the G2 Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr, while Lac Fontana (2013) progressed to win a G1 at Aintree.