Cheltenham welcomes in the new season on Friday, October 26, with a host of exciting horses among the entries for day one of The Showcase, including Grade One winners Kilbricken Storm, Diakali and Beat That.
Kilbricken Storm stayed on gamely to take the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Festival in March and the Colin Tizzard-trained seven-year-old could make his chasing debut in the 'Matchbook Time To Move Over' Novices' Chase.
Kilbricken Storm caused an upset in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Festival
His rivals in the extended three-mile contest may include Nicky Henderson’s Beat that, winner of the Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree in 2014, and the 2017 Stayers' Hurdle runner-up Lil Rockerfeller who made a winning start to his chasing career when scoring at Uttoxeter this month.
Trainer Stuart Edmunds is contemplating letting Now McGinty make his first appearances over fences in the same race.
The seven-year-old, a full-brother to useful chaser Outlander, progressed over hurdles last season, easily winning twice at Warwick before finishing a close second in the Grade Three Gaskells Handicap Hurdle at Aintree in April.
Buckinghamshire-based Edmunds said: "We have entered Now McGinty at Cheltenham, but would need to see a bit of rain before letting him run.
"One of main reasons we gave him an entry was that we schooled him the other day and he was electric. He has been very good and straight - he's a full-brother to Outlander, so he shouldn't be too shabby over fences.
"He has the most beautiful action, but all his best form has come on ground with some give in it.
"He was pulled up on good going at Towcester last season, but that wasn't because of the ground as he nearly got put over the rail that day.
"Wearing cheekpieces made a massive difference to him last season and he will probably have them on again to go chasing.
"He was definitely always a chaser in the making. He's a big horse who has thrived over the summer and, like a lot of people, all we are waiting for is a bit of rain."
Ciaran Gethings would take the mount if Now McGinty lines up on Friday.
Diakali, one of 13 contenders for the squareintheair.com Novices' Chase, scored in a Grade One hurdle at Auteuil in 2013 and has started brightly over fences since switching to Gary Moore, winning both his starts impressively at Fontwell and Newton Abbot in June.
His rivals could include last season's Grade One Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle runner-up Lostintranslation and talented hurdler Jenkins, who made a winning debut over fences at Stratford on October 8.
Rewatch the Mersey Novice's Hurdle at Aintree in which Lostintranslation finished second and Aye Aye Charlie was fourth
Fergal O’Brien’s Aye Aye Charlie was fourth behind Lostintranslation in the Mersey Novices' Hurdle and the six-year-old feature among 21 contenders for the opening Ballymore Novices' Hurdle alongside prolific winners Yensir, Haul Away and Dinons.
Pat Kelly boasts a formidable record at Cheltenham, having sent out winners at The Festival for each of the past three years, and the County Galway handler has entered Lizzies Champ and Dawn Raider in the Brandon Hill Capital Handicap Hurdle which has 44 entries in.
The 37 entries for the Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase include recent Uttoxeter winner Another Frontier.
Impressive bumper winners Rhythm Is A Dancer and Seven De Baune headline 25 contenders for the £15,000 Foundation Developments Ltd Maiden Hurdle.
The racing action is completed by the £15,000 'Matchbook Betting Podcast' Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, which has 29 entries including the hat-trick seeking Symphony Of Angels, one of the four top-weights with 11st 12lb.
Day two of The Showcase takes place at Cheltenham on Saturday, October 27, with the first of the seven races at 2pm.
The Showcase offers record prize money of £370,400 across the two days in 2018 - a boost of £51,400 (16 per cent) on the £319,000 in 2017. The increase is part of the £8-million cash injection announced by The Jockey Club in December of last year.
The biggest prize money boosts at The Showcase apply to the two handicap chases run on Saturday.
The 'Matchbook Betting Exchange' Handicap Chase (2.00pm) over three miles and a furlong and the two-mile Randox Health Handicap Chase (3.10pm) both have a total prize fund of £60,000 (up from £50,000 in 2017).