1.45 - NHS Vaccinating Heroes Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (2m½f)
The starting point is Samarrive for champion trainer Paul Nicholls. The French import is unbeaten after two starts, making light of his task at Kempton in April on British bow. That form isn't up to much but it will be no great shock should he go on to better things this winter and he's a major threat, albeit tackling this vastly different challenge, track-wise.
That's enough to just sway confidence towards SAMBA DANCER for Fergal O'Brien, who also runs Timberman and Byzantine Emperor here. Liam Harrison is on board Samba Dancer, emphatic scorer at Uttoxeter and Stratford in recent weeks. A 6lb rise may underestimate him.
Uncle Henry's recent form isn't overly impressive but he could have a say under Jordan Gainford for the Gordon Elliott team, while Small Bad Bob is another hat-trick seeker that cannot be ruled out in haste.
Selection: Samba Dancer
Next Best: Small Bad Bob
2.20 - 888sport What's Your Thinking Handicap Chase (3m1f)
Cloth Cap really improved in cheekpieces last season for trainer Jonjo O'Neill, dominating the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury and adding another success at Kelso in early March before being pulled up when favourite in the Grand National at Aintree. He's had a wind op over the summer and returns with those cheekpieces absent. He's tended to need a run in the past and, while it would be a super-charged emotional win to see him score in the Trevor Hemmings silks, today may not be the day.
Storm Control is a previous C&D winner and is proven to go well after a layoff, he makes his return with the Kerry Lee team in good form and needs to be considered a key player. Others of note on seasonal return are Cool Mix, Minella Bobo and Jersey Bean but maybe fitness is going to be a key aid for GO ANOTHER ONE.
Trainer John McConnell was on the board at this meeting a year ago and five of nine Cheltenham starters have made the frame in the preceding 12 months for the Irish handler. Go Another One just got up late under a patient ride from Sean Bowen at Perth last month over shorter and, 2lb higher, has a good chance of being involved again upped in trip.
Selection: Go Another One
Next Best: Storm Control
2.55 - Masterson Holdings Hurdle (2m½f)
With respect to Twoshotsoftequila, he'll leave punters feeling under the weather if he can somehow floor a promising trio of rivals here.
TRITONIC looked quite exciting when he won the Grade 2 Adonis at Kempton in February by ten-lengths. Alan King's smart Flat performer came up shy in the Triumph here at The Festival in March but perhaps that race crept up on him rather quickly. He had a couple of spins on the level afterwards and now returns for a second season over timber. He has gone well fresh in the past and despite giving 8lb to his two main rivals, he might be the one with most scope.
I Like To Move It and Stepney Causeway aren't easily dismissed. The former easily won a Worcester novice (2m, good to soft) this month on hurdle/seasonal bow and should build on that. Nigel Twiston-Davies often targets this meeting and he is a player.
Stepney Causeway ended last season with four straight wins over hurdles for Dan and Harry Skelton in novice company. A line through Casa Loupi suggests he has something to find with Tritonic, though he gets that 8lb today and has undergone wind surgery since we saw him last, so further improvement is a distinct possibility.
Next Best: Stepney Causeway
3.30 - 888sport Handicap Chase (2m)
Grand Annual winner Sky Pirate is the starting point. He was a star dropped to 2m last season, winning 3-4 and finishing second in a Grade 2 at Warwick as well. He just about withstood the challenge of Entoucas here in March and, while 7lb higher now, it doesn't sit easy to go against him.
This hasn't proved a happy hunting ground for Voix Du Reve in three previous visits but the 9YO is potentially on a decent mark on his seasonal bow for Iain Jardine and could be a danger to all if he gets in a rhythm out in front.
Ex-Nicky Henderson inmate BEFORE MIDNIGHT has plenty dash about him and he notched a first chasing success at Chepstow (2m, good) in April under Sam Twiston-Davies for Sam Thomas. He did so despite rather ploughing through an open ditch four from home and, in the circumstances, he did well to maintain his advantage late on after that juddering error. He could have more progress to come this season.
Belargus was a winner at Sandown in the spring when last seen and is another key player, while Leapaway needs considering and Bathiva (behind him at Worcester last month) can probably get much closer.
Selection: Before Midnight
Next Best: Sky Pirate
4.05 - Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (3m)
Gordon Elliott's Tullybeg has won hurdles races at Navan and Gowran Park over the last month or so and could have more to come at this distance, for all that a mark of 140 is no gimme here.
Tobefair won this this race in 2019 and has dipped some 14lb in the ratings since. He is winless in that time and his two recent runs don't inspire the notion he's going to turn it around now.
Jumping wasn't an aid for Geordie Des Champs over fences at Chepstow a fortnight ago and Rebecca Curtis' veteran could go with more purpose here, while Haul Away has won three of his last four for Nicky Henderson, including over fences at Warwick (3m1½f, good) last month. A slight drop in trip isn't a worry but he does have a career-high mark to overcome.
PANIC ATTACK was having a first run post-wind surgery at Aintree in May when she finished second in first-time cheekpieces, closing all the way to the line on her first attempt at the 2m4f trip. David Pipe's daughter of Canford Cliffs could be capable of better again should she excel at this increased distance.
Selection: Panic Attack
Next Best: Tullybeg
4.40 - Mick Turner A Lifetime In Racing Novices' Chase (3m)
Does He Know made an impressive start to his chasing career at Chepstow this month when accounting for the useful Paul Nicholls-trained Threeunderthrufive. He didn't always jump fluently there and will need to iron those issues out if he is to follow up, but trainer Kim Bailey has been positive on his prospects.
He joins Roi De Dubai in conceding 8lb to this field. John McConnell's charge has not finished outside the first two in five chase starts and he found only stablemate Go Another One (runs in the 2.20 race on this card) too strong at Perth last month. He's a reliable sort for a trainer that does well with Cheltenham runners but the younger legs of Does He Know and OSCAR ELITE are feared.
Colin Tizzard's charge excelled a novice hurdler last season, winning his first two at 2m3½f/2m7½f on testing ground at Chepstow and remaining competitive in graded events afterwards. He was third in the Grade 1 Sefton at Aintree on his last start, having left here the previous month as a silver medallist in the Albert Bartlett behind easy winner Vanillier.
Better things are expected now sent chasing and the 8lb he gets from Does He Know and Roi De Dubai cannot be underestimated if he hits the ground running.
Selection: Oscar Elite
Next Best: Does He Know
5.15 - Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Open NH Flat Race (2m½f)
A competitive bumper to close off The Showcase Meeting and this could be a lively betting heat. Top Dog finished second in a Fairyhouse bumper in April for Colm Murphy and has switched to Emma Lavelle over the summer. His new yard is in decent form and he has his claims.
Bonttay won nicely at Market Rasen in August on debut for Fergal O'Brien and the Westerner filly is the type to build on that now facing into this stronger contest, though Paddy Brennan partners Jeremy The Jinn instead - that one also a debut winner at Market Rasen back in May for the reliable trainer/jockey combo.
Fine By Me and Dalamoi have shown ability while Shuil Donn has joined Dr Richard Newland after finishing second at Cork in April as an 80/1 chance. There were a couple of next-time-out winners behind him there.
The Nicky Henderson newcomer Swapped must be watched carefully for confidence but maybe OCEAN OF MERCY can go a spot better for Irish trainer Paul Hennessy having looked slightly unlucky at Navan last month. The Ask gelding was given a patient ride sitting off a decent pace there and he finished better than anything in being denied a nose on the line. The clock supports the notion that was a really good effort and his new owner will be hopeful coming here.
Selection: Ocean Of Mercy
Next Best: Jeremy The Jinn