Cheltenham’s new season kicks off with The Showcase on Friday, October 17th and Saturday, October 18th. It is the first meeting at the Home Of Jump Racing since the Hunter Chase Evening at the end of April.
Claret Cloak is set to tackle two and a half miles for the first time in the Marie Curie Cancer Care Handicap Chase (2.35pm), the first of two £50,000 handicap chases on the Saturday.
The seven-year-old developed into a classy novice last season after a 14-length victory on his chase debut at Towcester in October, 2013. Emma Lavelle’s charge took fourth in the Grade One Racing Post Henry VIII Novices’ Chase in December at Sandown Park and then acquitted himself well in handicap company at the spring highlights.
He finished a close third to Savello in the Grade Three Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase at The Festival, despite a bad blunder at the penultimate fence, and filled the same position behind Parsnip Pete in the Grade Three Silver Cross Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree’s Crabbie’s Grand National Festival.
Lavelle said: “Claret Cloak will go for the Marie Curie Cancer Care Handicap Chase. We want to see if he stays two and a half miles because it will open up a lot more doors for him and he could be quite good over that trip.
“I was really pleased with his progress last season. He was probably a bit unlucky at Cheltenham and taking the second last fence with him didn’t help!
“The ground is massively important to him and hopefully the ground is decent, which it should be at this time of year.
“It’s one of those where he should get the trip but he travels so well in his races that it makes you have reservations. He is a lot more relaxed in his races now so that will give him every chance.”
Last year’s Marie Curie Cancer Care Handicap Chase was won by Johns Spirit, who returned to Cheltenham the following month to land The Open feature £160,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup.