Cheltenham and December can only mean one thing; its time for the excellent two day International fixture at Prestbury Park. It barely seems like a couple of days ago that we were were enjoying the Open Meeting last month but already Christmas is just around the corner and there is sure to be a fantastic atmosphere on course over the next couple of days.
The Festival itself is now just three months away and we can expect to garner some strong cues and pointers for March this weekend. The main action of the International Meeting will of course take place on Saturday with some excellent races on the card including the International Hurdle. This one always seems to throw up a good horse or two as a trial for the Champion Hurdle and once again we have some nice types entered up for this one.
The New One won this race last year before going onto finish 3rd in the Champion Hurdle and the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained horse is back again looking for a second successive win in the race. The 6-year-old has already won twice this season but this will be his toughest test up against some nice horses like Vaniteux and Sign Of A Victory engaged to take him on this weekend.
Plenty fancy The New One to win the Champion Hurdle in March and if those punters are to be proven right, you have to believe that he needs to produce a good performance on Saturday at Prestbury Park.
The December Gold Cup is sponsored by Caspian Caviar this season and this race is always a popular one with punters. All eyes will be on Caid Du Berlais as he looks to follow up his Paddy Power Gold cup success from last month and the Paul Nicholls horse is unsurprisingly the favourite to do just that. Some decent horses look set to take him on though including No Buts for David Bridgwater and Ericht, who are both capable of running well.
Other names to look out for at Cheltenham this weekend include RSA Chase favourite Kings Palace who runs in the first on Friday afternoon for David Pipe and former Champion Hurdler Rock On Ruby, who looks set to run on Saturday. Kings Palace was hugely impressive when winning last time out and is highly thought of by the Pipe team and he should be tough to beat as connections plot his way to the Festival in March.
It will be fascinating to follow the progress of Rock On Ruby in the Relkeel Hurdle as Harry Fry looks to step up his former Champion Hurdler in trip. He has ran well over 2m4f before and another good performance from Rock On Ruby on Saturday is likely to see him aimed at the World Hurdle in March as he bids to emulate More Of That, who won both the Relkeel and the World Hurdle last season.