Cheltenham on Sunday: A day of festival clues
Cheltenham: Another quality day of racing is in store on Sunday
PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos) Cheltenham on Sunday: A day of festival clues By Stuart Riley 6:15PM 12 NOV 2016
FOUR of the six winners on day three of last year's Open meeting went on to win at the Cheltenham Festival, while one of the runners-up was also victorious, so it is a card worthy of attention. We look at this year's contests and see where the festival clues could come from.
12.45 Cheltenham – Grade 2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial
Last year Altior claimed this en route to the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the festival and with 2014 and 2015 Champion Bumper winners – Moon Racer and Ballyandy – going head-to-head this year's renewal definitely has the feel of a strong trial.
With Alan King and Paul Nicholls saddling the unbeaten duo of Keep In Line and Movewiththetimes, plus former 100+ rated Flat performers Mirsaale and What About Carlo also in the field, this looks certain to be an absolute cracker.
1.20 Cheltenham – Grade 2 Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial
Although this race did not produce a festival winner last season, this is a race that has been contested by two future Champion Chasers in the last five years.
Paul Nicholls has won five of the last eight runnings and saddles odds-on favourite Le Prezien, who was second behind Yorkhill in Grade 1 company at Aintree.
He faces Henry de Bromhead's talented duo of Some Plan and Three Stars, already a Grade 3 winner over fences, as well as Nicky Henderson's chaser in the making Hammersly Lake and Colin Tizzard's new recruit Mick Thonic.
1.55 Cheltenham – Grade 2 Shloer Chase
Last year's Shloer was the start of something big as Sprinter Sacre was reborn and lit up the jumps season, while 2014 winner Uxizandre added the Ryanair later that season.
Cast from the Sprinter Sacre mold we have Simonsig, the immensely talented Neptune and Arkle winner who returned from a long time off with some decent efforts last year. Like Sprinter Sacre he is trained by Henderson, gets in here without a penalty and could take the first step towards his own glorious redemption.
In opposition is Special Tiara, who is of proven class having finished third this year, beaten just three and a half lengths, in a red-hot Champion Chase, while Fox Norton, aged just six, was an 11-length winner over course and distance last time out. It would be no surprise if another festival winner came out of this.
2.30 Cheltenham – Grade 3 stanjames.com Greatwood
Detroit City, Sizing Europe and Khyber Kim have all won this before claiming the Champion Hurdle and last year's runner-up Superb Story followed up in the County.
Alan King's three from three Winter Escape personifies the 'could be anything' ethos trainers love to talk about, while North Hill Harvey and Brain Power were others highly tried as novices. They come up against the likes of hardened and improving handicappers Modus, Sternrubin and Chi'Tibello.
3.05 Cheltenham – Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle
Albert Bartlett winner Unowhatimeanharry claimed this last year off a mark of 123 and his trainer Harry Fry is back for more with another novice, the JP McManus-owned Behind Time.
There are plenty of others with chances but there would be no louder cheer than if Mahlers Star could win for David Bridgwater in the silks made famous by the recently retired The Giant Bolster.
That is unless one of Tim Vaughan's two runners can win. They will be his 144th and 145th runners at a track where he is yet to unsaddle a winner. If either Looksnowtlikebrian or Master Dancer win Vaughan may just take the roof off by himself.
3.40 Cheltenham – Listed Bumper
Last year Ballyandy was the victor before claiming the Champion Bumper while in 2010 Rock On Ruby was victorious.
Ballyandy's trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies saddles Woodfort this time, while Tom George's Sumkindofking heads the betting from Fry's Bags Grove.
Paul Nicholls' Brahms De Clermont, who was green when winning at the Showcase meeting under a largely hands-and-heels ride, and the Rebecca Curtis-trained La Cavsa Nostra are other interesting contenders.