Cheltenham preview: Singlefarmpayment back after Festival near-miss

Fri 27 Oct 2017

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By staff

Singlefarmpayment makes his first appearance since his agonising defeat at last season's Cheltenham Festival in the opening race at Prestbury Park on Saturday.

The Tom George-trained seven-year-old is a dual winner at the home of National Hunt racing and came mighty close to claiming a third victory when beaten just a short head by Un Temps Pour Tout in the Ultima Handicap Chase back in March.

His seasonal debut comes in the three-mile-one-furlong Handicap Chase and his trainer is hopeful of another bold showing.

George said: "He came back from his summer break looking good and we are happy with him at the moment. We said we will take each step as it comes this season, depending on how the horse is, and see where we go.

"He progressed well last season and it will be interesting to see if he can carry that on this season."

Singlefarmpayment is set to face 15 rivals in the hands of Adrian Heskin.

Doing Fine, a winner at Cheltenham in April, is a major contender for Neil Mulholland having blown away any cobwebs with a creditable effort over hurdles at Fontwell three weeks ago.

"Ideally we'd probably have liked a little bit longer between races, but he seems to have come out of the hurdle race well and we're happy with him at home," said Mulholland.

"Hopefully he'll come on for the run and he likes Cheltenham, so fingers crossed he'll run well."

Irish hopes rest on Henry de Bromhead's On Fiddlers Green, who was a well-beaten eighth in the Munster National at Limerick on his latest appearance.

De Bromhead said: "The soft going probably went against On Fiddlers Green in the Munster National, so I am hoping the better ground will suit and that he can run a good race."

A similarly competitive field of 16 runners go to post for the two-mile Randox Health Handicap Chase.

The weights are headed by the high-class Vaniteux, who makes his first appearance for David Pipe having been snapped up for £125,000 out of Nicky Henderson's yard.

Pipe said: "He's in good form and he does everything at home as you'd expect. It's a tough ask off top weight, but he has some good form around Cheltenham and it's a good starting point, so we'll see how we go."

De Bromhead sends last season's Irish Arkle hero Some Plan into battle. The nine-year-old needs to bounce back from an abject display on his reappearance at Limerick earlier this month.

"I hope that the return to two miles will suit. He was very disappointing and didn't seem to stay the last day," said the Knockeen-based trainer.

"He was kept busy last season and had a great first half, winning three races and then just seemed to peter out. He has beaten some very good chasers and is a fair horse on his day."

Malcolm Jefferson's Double W's won a valuable handicap at Aintree last spring and is expected to strip fitter for his recent comeback run at Kelso.

Jefferson's daughter and assistant, Ruth, said: "He always improves from his first run. Last year he was beaten in a handicap hurdle at Hexham. We've been happy with him since Kelso. He worked very well on Wednesday and we're happy to have a go."

With last season's star juvenile Defi Du Seuil not taking up his engagement, four horses contest the Masterson Holdings Hurdle.

Dan Skelton's Bedrock sets the standard on ratings ahead of De Bromhead's Twobeelucky, who won his first two jumping starts before chasing home Le Richebourg at Galway.

De Bromhead said: "I think that this will be Twobeelucky's final run before he goes off for a break. We are up against it on the ratings, but we said that we would give it a go and see how we get on."

The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices' Chase is an intriguing event. The prolific Alcala bids to return to winning ways for Paul Nicholls after slipping up when challenging Finian's Oscar at Chepstow a fortnight ago.

He might not have it all his own way, however, with Midnight Shot, Two Taffs and Double Treasure all worthy opponents.

Midnight Shot has had a very productive campaign already having won four of his six starts over fences for Charlie Longsdon.

Longsdon said: "He's had a great year and he's a tough and hardy old brute who loves his jumping. It's a tough ask with the Nicholls horse in the race, but we're going there in good form and we're looking forward to it."

The Tourard Man heads the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle list, which also features Dell' Arca, Thomas Campbell and Johanos.

Calett Mad and Robbin'Hannon are part of a six-strong field for the Junior Jumpers Novices' Hurdle, while the concluding Jockey Club Venues Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race sees plenty of promising types in action.

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