The three days of The Open Cheltenham Festival offers fantastic sport. Sundays six-race card features the 100,000 Grade Three Greatwood Hurdle (2.20pm) over an extended two miles, while the sextet of classy races on Friday includes the popular 25,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase (3.00pm) over three miles, seven furlongs.
Sir Michael Oswald, racing manager for the Queens jump horses, reports the home-bred Barbers Shop to be in good form ahead of a possible tilt at the 150,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup (2.35pm) over an extended two and a half miles on Saturday, November 15, day two of The Open.
The Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old has only twice finished out of the frame in 12 racecourse appearances and beat the sponsors current Paddy Power Gold Cup 4/1 favourite Silverburn on his debut in a Wincanton bumper back in March, 2006.
Barbers Shop, currently 13/2 second favourite with Paddy Power, was a close second, beaten a neck, to Finger Onthe Pulse over the Paddy Power Gold Cup course and
distance in the Listed Jewson Novices' Handicap Chase at The Festival in March and finished last season with a facile 48-length victory in a novice chase at Newbury in April.
Sir Michael commented: "Theres a good chance that Barbers Shop will take his chance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and I am looking forward to seeing him run. Im not into handicapping but I dont think that 10st 6lb is too big a burden and I dont think we would mind if the weights go up a few pounds.
"We know that the distance suits him well and we are not sure if he can get three miles against top class company. There are not too many two and a half mile chases available for him, so the Paddy Power Gold Cup seems like the logical option.
"Nicky reports him to be in great form and all of his runners seem to be going well at the moment. He mentioned the Paddy Power Gold Cup as a target after he won at Newbury and I believe that its still very much the plan.
"Im not sure who will ride but Nicky has a handful of very good jockeys to choose from - Ive been very impressed with the way Barry Geraghty has settled in and that lad McCoy looks quite promising! The stable is obviously firing at the moment and that helps everything else.
"He was only beaten a neck in the Jewson Novices Handicap Chase and he was a little slowly away from the last fence otherwise he would have won. That was on good to soft ground and we would be hopeful that conditions would be similar next week.
"Hes a lot better horse over fences than over hurdles and weve always seen him as a smart chaser in the making. His form over hurdles was very moderate and he didnt really take them too seriously.
"He came on with every run over fences last season and I hope that he will continue to improve this term. I am sure that we havent seen the best of him yet."
Barbers Shop is set to be the Queens first Paddy Power Gold Cup runner.