Currency bids to rise again

Any Currency and Solstice Star are likely to feature among a strong Martin Keighley-trained team heading to Cheltenham's opening meeting of the new Jump season, The Showcase on Friday, October 21 and Saturday, October 22.

Any Currency will be in action over hurdles

Any Currency, last seen out capturing a three and a half-mile handicap chase at Cheltenham in April, is set for a pipe-opener over hurdles ahead of the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase back at Cheltenham during The Open in November.

Imperial Cup runner-up Solstice Star could make his debut over fences in either the Novices' Chase on Friday over two miles or the two and a half-mile Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices' Chase a day later.

The six-year-old was one of the success stories of last season after winning five races on bounce, including two handicap hurdles at Cheltenham, and climbing 47lb in the ratings.

Keighley, based locally at Luckley, said: "Any Currency is in great old form and will go for the Pertemps Network qualifier. He had his prep race at Aintree last season and the track was just a bit sharp for him.

"He is 35lb lower over hurdles than his cross country mark, he loves Cheltenham and it is just down the road, so we will give it a go. It will hopefully leave him spot on for the cross country race in November.

"Solstice Star will have an entry in both of the shorter novices' chases. He would prefer softer ground but as long as it is genuine good to soft ground we will definitely have a look.

"We schooled him over fences before we turned him away last season and he has been very good.

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"He really improved with every run last season and ran a cracking race in the Imperial Cup. If he could improve again, you would like to think he will reach a pretty high standard over fences."

Keighley's team at The Showcase is also likely to include the unexposed Cottersrock in the three-mile Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices' Chase, course scorer Altesse de Guye and Johnny Og, who won four times over fences last season.

Cottersrock bolted up on his handicap hurdle debut at Kempton Park in April and stayed on strongly from to beat a decent field on his chasing debut at Uttoxeter on October 2.

The trainer added: "Cottersrock has come out of Uttoxeter really well. He had a school on Tuesday and did his first piece of faster work yesterday and seems in great shape.

"It was a good performance at Uttoxeter despite the ground being a tad on the soft side for him. He will appreciate nicer ground if we don't get any rain and the step up to three miles will definitely suit as well.

"He looks a nice recruit for chasing. I trained his half-brother Wolf Moon, who won a couple of times at Cheltenham for us, and so I was following Cottersrock when he was running in Ireland.

"He won his bumper over there and then we got him from the Cheltenham sale. He looks a good buy.

"There is two-mile five-furlong handicap hurdle for Altesse de Guye, while Johnny Og will have an entry in the £50,000 Randox Health Handicap Chase over two miles.

"Johnny Og did really well last season and I suppose the big question now is whether or not the handicapper has got hold off him. He is still quite young so you would hope he might be able to progress a bit more but he will need to.

"We tried him in the four-miler but stamina was always a big concern. He is better going a gallop over shorter trips."

Keighley also confirmed that Somewhere To Be, bred and owned by Zara Phillips, is likely to go for Saturday's concluding White Christmas Parties At Cheltenham Standard Open Bumper.

Away from the action on the track, racegoers will have the opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Home of Jump Racing with guided tours of the parade ring and weighing room before racing.

The food and drink showcase, introduced for the first time in 2014, returns to The Centaur to show off all that is great about produce from the Cotswolds.

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