Limelight is beckoning on a huge night for amateurs
AMATEUR jockeys will take centre stage at the Hunter Chase Evening at Prestbury Park tonight.
The popular seven-race card will get underway with the Cheltenham Racecourse Conference and Events Hunter Chase (5pm), with gates opening at 3pm.
Ice Cool Benny was a winner at Stratford, where he took advantage of Findlays Find's last-fence fall.
He holds Dunshane on that run and looks a place bet at least.
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It may seem that Belinda and Ade Sparey are trying to achieve the impossible with Swallows Delight, who put past form behind him when scoring at Kingston Blount.
It would still require considerable improvement for him to win but with Dave Mansell in the saddle anything is possible.
Steve Flook said after Shalamiyr's win at Andoversford ten days ago: "We'll put the blinkers on him at Cheltenham, lead from the start and see if they can catch him."
The Connollys Red Mills Intermediate Point-To-Point Championship (5.35pm) caters for horses just out of novice class.
While neither Benedictus and Bluevito are world beaters Woodview Prince has a big reputation. He is making his hunter chase debut and this is a big step up in class compared with the competition he has faced so far.
Doctor Kingsley has won five on the trot this year, but he is a quirky sort and will need everything in his favour to prevail at Cheltenham.
My Lil Ledge was fortunate to win at Andoversford but she does have the mares' allowance in her favour.
Simply Game and Nobby Kivambo have improved out of all recognition this year, which has presented Wall with an interesting dilemma about which to ride.
Jason Warner has earmarked this race as the target for Nobby Kivambo for some time, and his demolition of Rumbavu at Chaddesley put him on the shortlist for this contest.
Leading contenders for the Hunt Staff Benefit Society Hunters Chase (6.10pm) include Coombe Hill, who should find the course and distance in his favour.
James Pine has a course success to his credit but it may be expecting too much for him to give another front-running performance in the hands of Annabel Roberts.
Massimo has returned to form this year and Openditch can maintain a good gallop throughout his races but lacks some finishing speed, so the stiff uphill finish at Cheltenham is likely to play to his strengths.
Claire Hart will be looking to clinch the overall title by winning the AGA Ladies Open Point-To-Point Championship Final (6.45pm).
The winner of the race receives significant prizemoney, but the riders have also been accumulating points throughout in the hope of winning the AGA Total Control Ladies Championship, where the leading jockey receives one of the sponsors' products worth £10,000.
Hart has struck up a good relationship with Lady Myfanwy this year but she was beaten a long way in the 20011 final. Amicelli has won at the Cheltenham Festival in the past but he had his limitations exposed behind Lady Myfanwy at Chaddesley recently.
Sarah Rippon and Metal Detector are likely to struggle in this company, whereas Upton Springs is at the top of her form.
A habitual front-runner, Sarah Jayne Davies put those tactics to good use to halt the winning run of Chestnut Annie last weekend.
Upton Springs was beaten by six lengths by Billyvoddan in the race last year and there might not be much between them again.
Billyvoddan lost his way a little in mid-season but he has been trained for this race and that should enable the 13-year-old to win the race for the second successive year.
Bradley could make it an evening to remember for Mark Wall in the Champion Hunters' Chase (7.20pm).
Turko finished in front of Bradley at the Cheltenham Festival but Bradley has subsequently run well in two handicap chases.
Offshore Account and Trifollet also have winning form at hunter chases
Four miles around Prestbury Park will face the runners in the Moss Fallon Hunters Chase (7.50pm). Mid Div and Creep ran away with this race last year and will be fancied for a repeat performance.
Will Telfer and Never So Blue won at Brampton Bryan. That form leaves them with something to find but victory would not come as a complete surprise and this could provide Claudia Wilesmith with her first success under Rules.
Crank Hill's form figures are impressive but they do not amount to much, while Dear Villez warmed up for this race by winning a point-to-point in Wales. The Cheltenham Collection Hunters Chase (8.20pm) provides the climax to the 2011/2012 season at Prestbury Park.
Whizzaar's jumping will stand him in good stead over the tough fences.
Silver Adonis has yet to strike top form but this should be an ideal opportunity for the Tom Weston ridden 11-year-old.
Steve Flook is the leading hunter chase trainer and I Have Dreamed looks to have an ideal profile after recent wins at Ascot and Kempton.