The excitement at this time of year is always palpable among National Hunt Racing fans and that will crank up a notch this weekend as racing returns to Cheltenham for the first time this Autumn. The two day Showcase Meeting is always a popular starting point each October and we can expect a big crowd at Prestbury Park with plenty of punters looking to usher in the new season at Cheltenham with a winner or two.
The declarations for the two day meeting are certainly looking decent at this stage with plenty of very nice horses set to strut their stuff on Friday and Saturday. There are a couple of very interesting races to follow on Friday with the 2m5f Neptune Novices' Hurdle and the 2m Squareintheair Novices' Chase perhaps the two stand-outs with regards to potential future stars.
The John Ferguson trained Penglai Pavilion was 5th in an Arc on the flat while he looked very good on his hurdling debut recently and should be on to follow in the Neptune race, while the same trainer also has Qewy in the Novices' Chase and he certainly has good form in the book having finished 5th in the Supreme Novices Hurdle last season.
Top Irish trainers Henry De Bromhead and Gordon Elliott both have runners to follow this weekend at Cheltenham with the likes of Exxaro, Casual Approach and Sizing Codelco among their runners and they need to be applauded for making the trip over the Irish Sea.
Saturday should be just as good at Cheltenham with a big crowd expected to see some excellent racing at the home of the Jumps. Perhaps the best of them will be the excellent Hargam who could make his first start of the season for Nicky Hendersonin the Masterson Holdings Hurdle with his 3rd place in the Triumph Hurdle last March looking like very good form.
The 2m3f Novice Chase on Saturday is also a potentially excellent contest with Parlour Games perhaps the stand-out entry there. Another John Ferguson trained former flat performer, Parlour Games was an excellent hurdler season and was good enough to finish 2nd in the Neptune at the Festival which should ensure that he is a top chaser to follow this season.
The Showcase Meeting is always a nice starting point to the season and while it is far from the best meeting this side of Christmas, it will be great to get back to Prestbury Park as the start of the proper jumps season really gets going.