Get ready for major festival clues at this weekend's Cheltenham bonanza
Cheltenham's three-day November meeting is one of the jumps season's outstanding autumn weekends, with plenty of top-class action and no shortage of clues for the Cheltenham Festival in March. Nine winners at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival ran at the November meeting that season, while eight were successful in 2014. So how did last year's November meeting compare?
Ballymore Novices' Hurdle | Grade 2 | 2m5f
Thyme Hill's three-length success in this showcased his potential as Britain's leading novice hurdler and he confirmed that promise when landing the Grade 1 Challow Novices' Hurdle next time out.
However, he could not follow up in March, when he finished a luckless fourth in a thrilling Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle. That defeat confirmed the poor record of winners of this race at the festival, where Black Jack Ketchum (2006 Albert Bartlett) and Massini's Maguire (2007 Ballymore) are the exceptions who followed up.
This year Threeunderthrufive and course-and-distance winner Does He Know are the two leading candidates to add their names to the roll of honour.
Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase | 3m7f
This race has a stronger profile than some of the races in finding a festival winner, but it was not the case 12 months ago. The winner Diesel D'Allier finished a respectable fourth in the race of the same name in March, albeit he was well beaten by fellow French-trained runner Easysland, who could make his eagerly awaited seasonal return in this on Friday.
Alongside Easysland, dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll and Welsh Grand National winner Potters Corner could all line up.
Number of Cheltenham Festival winners to run at that season's November meeting
JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial | Grade 2 | 2m
This was the race last year when Allmankind announced himself with a bold front-running performance under Harry Skelton and laid down a serious marker for the Triumph Hurdle.
He was one of Britain's leading hopes in the race after another imperious display in the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle but could finish only third. This race has a poor record at the festival, with Katchit and Defi Du Seuil being the only ones to follow up in March.
Skelton is set to be represented by Cabot Cliffs, while Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson, who both have strong records in this race, have Hell Red and Overpriced Mixer engaged respectively.
Arkle Trial | Grade 2 | 2m
Not since Azertyuiop in 2003 had the winner of this race followed up in the Arkle, but that hoodoo was blown out of the water at last year's meeting.
Put The Kettle On, who won the trial by two and a half lengths 12 months ago, showed her love for Prestbury Park when she was a surprising winner of the Arkle under Aidan Coleman.
Rouge Vif was a disappointing last behind Henry de Bromhead's mare last year, but bounced back to finish third in the Arkle and, after his impressive comeback over course and distance last month, he is a live Champion Chase contender this season.
Fusil Raffles, unbeaten in two starts over fences, is in line to appear, while Quel Destin could make his chase debut.
Shloer Chase | Grade 2 | 2m
The Shloer has become a crucial race for Champion Chase clues. The mighty Sprinter Sacre completed the double in 2015-16 and Defi Du Seuil looked destined to do the same after last year's impressive victory.
But the seven-year-old bombed out in the Champion Chase as Politologue, who was beaten by Defi Du Seuil in the Shloer 12 months ago, took victory.
Defi Du Seuil and Sceau Royal, winner in 2018, could make their seasonal returns in this year's race, which will be a key pointer to the season's top two-mile chases again.
Saint Calvados was also last of four in the Shloer last season but put in a career-best performance months later at the festival, going down by a neck to Min in the Ryanair Chase.
Were festival clues lurking in any other races?
Happy Diva's win in the Paddy Power Gold Cup confirmed her fondness of Cheltenham and she ran a stormer at 20-1 to finish second in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, while Paddy Power seventh Us And Them was placed for the second year in a row at the festival in the Grand Annual.
Greatwood Hurdle fifth Dame De Compagnie subsequently won twice at Cheltenham last season, including when a comfortable winning favourite of the Coral Cup.
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