Hampshire trainer Chris Gordon will be well-represented at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day, this Saturday, 25 January, the final fixture at the Home of Jump Racing before The Festival™ presented by Magners (10-13 March).
Gordon's runners are led by Highway One O One, who is Paddy Power's 5/1 joint-favourite alongside Warthog (David Pipe) for the £70,000 G3 Paddy Power 45 Sleeps To Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase (1.50pm, 19 entries) over an extended two and a half miles.
Highway One O One (11st 3lb) twice ran well over the course and distance last season. The eight-year-old was second to Kildisart in the Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase on Festival Trials Day and ended the campaign with a close third in the G2 Cure Parkinson's And Hambo Foundation Silver Trophy Handicap Chase at The April Meeting.
Highway One O One has performed consistently again this season and on his latest start finished third, beaten a length, in a valuable three-mile handcap chase at Kempton Park on 27 December.
Gordon, who has sent out two winners on Festival Trials Day since 2015, said today: "The plan is to have three runners on Festival Trials Day, including Highway One O One in the big handicap chase.
"He has been in good form this season. He has gone up another 2lb for his run at Kempton, but he has been very consistent, and I would like to think he goes to Cheltenham with solid claims, although it looks a wide-open race.
"On The Slopes was third behind another of our horses Commanche Red on Boxing Day and he will go for the Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase (1.15pm, 2m 4f 127y, 24 entries).
"Samcro (Gordon Elliott IRE) is keeping us out of the handicap as things stand, but hopefully he comes out.
"On The Slopes was meant to run at Huntingdon the other week, but the meeting was called off and this race has been the target since. He is a nice horse.
"Shut The Box will run in the Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle (4.10pm, 2m 179y, 20 entries) which we have won a couple of times in the past with Remiluc and Lightentertainment."
The 19 entries for Paddy Power 45 Sleeps To Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase also include G3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup second Spiritofthegames (Dan Skelton) and Lalor (Kayley Woollacott), who finished a close third in a similar contest at Cheltenham on New Year's Day.
Paddy Power 45 Sleeps To Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase - Paddy Power prices: 5/1 Highway One O One, Warthog; 11/2 Spiritofthegames; 6/1 Lalor; 7/1 Ex Patriot; 8/1 Jerrysback, My Way; 10/1 Count Meribel, Cepage, Two Taffs; 12/1 Clondaw Castle; 16/1 Garde La Victoire, Militarian, The Kings Writ, Wishfull Dreaming; 25/1 Cool Mix; 33/ Fixed Rate, Flowery; 50/1 Western Miller
The most valuable race on Festival Trials Day is the £100,000 G2 Paddy Power Cotswold Chase (2.25pm, 3m 1f 56y), a key trial for the G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
Santini (Nicky Henderson), the 5/4 favourite with Paddy Power, multiple G1 scorer Bristol De Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies) and Irish star Delta Work (Gordon Elliott IRE) headline the nine contenders.
De Rasher Counter (Emma Lavelle), winner of the prestigious Ladbrokes Trophy last time out, and Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase scorer Top Ville Ben (Phil Kirby) are also earmarked to run.
Paddy Power Cotswold Chase - Paddy Power prices: 11/8 Santini; 9/4 Bristol De Mai; 6/1 Delta Work, Slate House; 7/1 De Rasher Counter, Top Ville Ben; 14/1 Mister Whitaker; 20/1 Alpha Des Obeaux; 33/1 Ex Patriot
The other graded contests on the card are £60,000 G2 galliardhomes Cleeve Hurdle (3.35pm, 3m, 11 entries), which is set to feature G1 Stayers' Hurdle hero Paisley Park (Emma Lavelle), the £32,000 G2 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (12.40pm, 14 entries, 2m 179y) and the £32,000 G2 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (3.00pm, 2m 4f 56y, 15 entries).
Racing starts at 12.40pm and ends at 4.10pm.
The going at Cheltenham is Soft, with the outlook dry and milder by the weekend.
Final declarations for all the races on Festival Trials Day will be known shortly after 10am tomorrow, Friday, 24 January.