Grounds for supporting classy Codelco as Prestbury Park gets its season under way
A highly competitive team of 10 Irish-trained runners will contest the first Cheltenham card of the new season.
Gordon Elliott, Henry de Bromhead, Jessica Harrington and Colin Bowe are all multiply represented on this afternoon's curtain-raiser.
Most of the delegation should appreciate the prevailing good ground, which is likely to be even drier than is often the case at the early autumn fixture, although the Prestbury Park surface has been watered.
One of those that mightn't mind a little more juice in the ground is Sizing Codelco. De Bromhead's Listowel winner contests the novices' chase alongside Harrington's Rock The World. They were of a similar level of ability over flights and they have also gained similar experience over fences.
Rock The World lost little in defeat at Listowel after the ground had deteriorated. He will be more comfortable back on this surface, and should have a live chance under Barry Geraghty in the four-runner affair.
However, preference is for Sizing Codelco, as the Flemensfirth gelding appeals as a classier long-term option. He ran respectably in good company over fences last winter, and made a winning return at Listowel, having competed well over flights in between.
If he progresses from that for the Waterford handler, he should go close in the hands of the owner's retained rider Jonathan Burke (below).
John Ferguson's smart Qewy is the best horse in the race, but Prestbury Park is never easy for a fencing debutant.
In the novices' hurdle, Ferguson's Penglai Pavilion is on a hat-trick and Harrington's Sandymount Duke should improve for a middling Killarney run. Exxaro won that race for De Bromhead and Geraghty, and is fancied to complete its hat-trick.
A son of Presenting that loves a decent surface, Exxaro won last time despite Geraghty losing an iron after he blundered two-out. He had more up his sleeve than appeared the case and is on an upward curve.
Both of Bowe's runners are fancied to go close. The shrewd Wexford handler relies on the game Mark Walsh-ridden Shantou Flyer in the novices' chase. This is a well-contested race, but conditions will suit him ideally.
Katie Do might be at her best on slower ground. Still, notwithstanding her early Sligo exit, she has been in great heart, so she could be thereabouts in the amateur riders' chase under Barry O'Neill.