There is a Thursday every year that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and today is that Thursday.
It is of course, the day before Cheltenham’s Showcase meeting, and that means the jumps is back in the big time.
As a huge National Hunt fan, this is where I can finally get stuck into the jumps and begin to look for some future stars.
This year's novice chasers look an incredible bunch and I expect that division to be the most competitive.
Friday’s action is just as good as Saturday’s and that is where we start with hopefully, a profitable Trixie. Sandymount Duke has had a profitable summer, winning four times before possibly running out of steam after a hard campaign.
Since then, he has been freshened up in preparation for Cheltenham and his experience could hold him in good stead against others in the field.
Jessica Harrington’s gelding also brings some solid form in the book having finished second behind the promising Limini at Punchestown in April. He showed a great tough attitude to score at Galway, which is something I love to see in a horse.
While former Arc contender Penglai Pavilion has looked good over hurdles, I just feel that Sandymount Duke’s experience will count for a lot here in the novice hurdle that kicks off the card.
The following Novice Chase looks a cracker despite only the four runners. It will be interesting to see how the useful Qewy takes to fences first time, while Sizing Codelco opened his chase account at Listowel last time out.
Qewy receives weight all round from his rivals, but I do have question marks over him making his chase debut at Cheltenham, he will have to be at the top of his game to beat more experienced rivals, and perhaps his day will come after tomorrow.
Dormello Mo has a good record over the larger obstacles, but all his runs have come at Newton Abbot and despite winning some good contests, this may be a step above his level at the moment.
He isn’t discounted but my preference is for Rock The World. It seems this is becoming some sort of Harrington and Geraghty love in, but the form of his Grade 3 win is very solid and I would expect him to take all the beating here.
We move away from that partnership in the 3.55pm at Cheltenham, where Vicente looks to be a good bet. He carries some of the best hurdle form into the race but was also successful twice over the larger obstacles when last seen in May.
He goes well fresh and I would expect there to be more to come from Nicholls’ charge.