Exciting chasers and hurdlers heading for Cheltenham Racecourse
TRAINER Michael Winters is hoping his exciting chaser Rebel Fitz can use the Showcase meeting at Cheltenham as a stepping stone to the Festival.
Rebel Fitz features among 14 entries, including Jonjo O'Neill's highly-rated Taquin Du Seuil and Kim Bailey's exciting prospect Muldoon's Picnic, for the Cheltenham Annual Members Novices' Chase (2.40pm) on the first day of the Showcase on Friday.
The 2012 Galway Hurdle winner has already established himself as a leading contender for top honours this season with five wins over fences, most recently under Barry Geraghty at Tipperary on October 6.
Winters, based in County Cork, said Rebel Fitz would run at Prestbury Park providing the ground is not too fast.
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"He has come out of Tipperary in strapping form," he said.
"He sweated an awful lot during the race but Barry came back and said that he could have gone round again, so he really had no race at all.
"He would sometimes be a bit too smart and think a little when going over a hurdle but he has been very clever over fences so far and we have been delighted with him.
"Barry says that two and a half miles is his best trip.
"Down the road, we will have to wait and see what opposition comes up over the winter in Ireland and Britain but, at the moment, it seems that two and a half is the best for him.
"We will give him a bit of time after Cheltenham and we won't be in a hurry afterwards. We will get home, have a good look at him and freshen him back up.
"He's not a hard horse to train in a lot of ways because he doesn't take a lot of work to get fit.
"It is exciting for the owner (Brian Sweetman) to have a runner at Cheltenham and there is always a bit of rivalry between England and Ireland.
"If everything goes right this season, we can hopefully bring him back for the Festival in March."
The meeting kicks off with the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle (2.10pm), which could feature some of the top young horses trained in Gloucestershire.
Twiston-Davies' star hurdler The New One won the race last year before going on to strike again at the Festival.
Twiston-Davies has pencilled in this year's race for Pure Science, who was sixth in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Festival last season, and Oscar Magic, who has won his last two races.
Jonjo O'Neill could attempt to win the race with Rum And Butter, who has won twice over hurdles this summer, while Martin Keighley has the race in mind for Chepstow winner Creepy.
Countdown to the Showcase, see Pink Un page 15