Trainer Andy Turnell is looking forward to seeing Bible Lord make a return to Cheltenham in the £50,000 Dick Francis “Silks” Handicap Chase (3.25pm), highlight of the second day of The Showcase on Saturday, October 18.
The seven-year-old gelding proved himself as a top-quality chaser in his second campaign over fences last season and finished fourth behind Mister McGoldrick over the same extended two and a half mile course in the Grade Three Racing Post Plate at The Festival on March 13.
Turnell has been pleased with the son of Mister Lord’s progress throughout the summer and sees Saturday’s contest as an ideal preparation for the £150,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup, run at The Open on Saturday, November 15.
The Broad Hinton-based trainer commented: “We’ve entered Bible Lord in the Dick Francis “Silks” Handicap Chase and the plan is to let him take his chance. We’ve got to start his season off somewhere and this race looks to be a good option.
“He’s pretty well on in his preparation. He was in quite early this year and there’s nothing more I can do with him at home so I am keen to get a race into him. Hopefully, he can run well and then we can think about the Paddy Power Gold Cup, which is the plan at the moment.
“Last season he needed a couple of runs to get up to full fitness so hopefully he can be spot on for The Open in November.
“I have always thought a fair bit of him but I suppose he disappointed me a little bit last season. He made a few jumping errors in the Racing Post Plate and I thought he was going as well as anything bar the winner turning into the straight but just didn’t quicken up the hill.
“It was a similar thing at Aintree on his latest start, when he made a couple of mistakes and didn’t really get home over three miles and a furlong.
“He’s a big backward baby of a horse but I hope that he has matured mentally over the summer. He’s willing enough but he just seems a bit clumsy at times - he’s still got a good jump in him and I think he will come on alright this season.
“He’s got improvement in him and I am hopeful that he can get his season underway with a good run on Saturday.”
Bible Lord looks set to face some tough opposition in the Dick Francis “Silks” Handicap, for which a total of 26 horses have been entered. Nigel Twiston-Davies, successful in this race last year with Knowhere, could be represented by Fundamentalist, who finished in front of Bible Lord when third in the Racing Post Plate, and the seventh from that race Patman du Charmil, who was also third in last season’s Grade Three Boylesports.com Gold Cup at The Boylesports International.
2004 Paddy Power Gold Cup victor Celestial Gold could take his chance for owner David Johnson and trainer David Pipe, while Fier Normand, runner-up in a Grade Two Intermediate Chase at Ascot on his latest start in November, 2007, may make his seasonal reappearance in the race for the Jonjo O’Neill stable.
Nation State could return to Cheltenham, having triumphed on his latest start in the Messier-Dowty Landing Gear Novices' Limited Handicap Chase at the April meeting, and he could reoppose the second and fifth from that race, Sir Bathwick and Gold Medallist, while Nicky Henderson could let chaser Copsale Lad use the race as a warm up for another tilt at the Paddy Power Gold Cup. Lord Ryeford, fourth in this contest last year, is another possible starter.
Saturday’s seven-raced card starts off with the £20,000 Royal Gloucestershire Hussars "Help For Heroes" Handicap Hurdle (2.20pm), for which 34 have been entered, including the Paul Nicholls-trained pair of Pacha d’Oudairies and Simondium.
The £22,000 University Of Gloucestershire Novices' Chase (2.50pm) has attracted 22 entries and could see last season’s Grade Three Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle third French Saulaie continue his education over the larger obstacles against the likes of Poquelin, Predatueur, Tatenen, The Package and I’msingingtheblues, who took the Grade Two Anglo Irish Bank Private Banking Novices' Hurdle at The Open last year.
Nicky Henderson is aiming to win the race named after his former stable jockey, the £10,000 Mick Fitzgerald Novices’ Hurdle (4.00pm), with Prince du Beury and You And I among the 24 entries, while the Seven Barrows handler has Prince du Beury, French Opera and Bonchester Bridge among the 42 entered for the £10,000 The Cheltenham Business Club Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (4.35pm).
Following on from the success of Joe Lively last year, Colin Tizzard could bid for a repeat success in the £22,000 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Novices' Chase (5.10pm) courtesy of Flight Leader, but the Supreme Leader gelding, eighth in last season’s Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle, could face stiff competition from a strong entry of 21, which includes Ballyfitz, successful in last season’s Pertemps Final at The Festival, and Big Fella Thanks.
The final race on the card is the £6,000 Betfair Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (5.45pm), for which 35 have been entered. Last year’s winner Oberon Moon, subsequently triumphed in the Endsleigh Insurance Novices’ Handicap Hurdle for Paul Nicholls at Cheltenham’s April meeting, and the champion trainer could this year run Bobby On The Beat and Vico.
The highlight of Friday’s seven-race card is the £30,000 IG Index Handicap Chase (4.05pm), which has attracted a total of 21 entries. Nigel Twiston-Davies could be represented by last season’s winner Ardaghey and Fundamentalist, while Colin Tizzard may run Joe Lively, who won the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Novices’ Chase at The Showcase last season, before returning to Cheltenham to finish sixth in the Grade One Royal & SunAlliance Chase in March.
The extended three-mile contest could also see 2007 Scottish Grand National third Parson’s Legacy make his seasonal reappearance alongside Cornish Sett, who chased home Sir Rembrandt in the Grade Three Servo Computer Services Trophy Handicap Chase at The Open last year, while Burntoakboy, successful over hurdles in the 2007 Grade Three Coral Cup, could also make his first start since April.
A total of 25 horses have been entered for the £25,000 Jewson Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (3.30pm), run over an extended two miles. The weights are headed by the David Pipe-trained Leo’s Lucky Star, who completed a hat-trick of wins with a facile 10-length success in a Sedgefield qualifier at the start of September. Other notable entries include the Charlie Egerton-trained Shore Thing, a winner of three of his last four starts, Donaldson, a Group One scorer on the Flat in Germany, and Font, representing the all-conquering stable of Paul Nicholls.
The Showcase gives members of the public the chance to get more involved in different aspects of racing. Prior to racing, racegoers can visit the parade ring and the weighing room and even win the chance to judge the Best Turned Out horse in a race, watch a race as an owner or make a trophy presentation. The Showcase Exhibition brings together information about breeding, owning, training, riding and caring for horses in their retirement, plus demonstrations covering aspects as diverse as how a horse is saddled and how a fence is built.
Meeting - The Showcase, Cheltenham Racecourse
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