There will be no Cheltenham roar, no bustling parade ring and no shouting and cheering as some of National Hunt’s favourite personalities return to the home of Jump Racing. But the sight of Jump racing’s much cherished arena back in action will no doubt still bring great joy to racing fans.
This Saturday, racing returns to Cheltenham Racecourse for the first time since the global pandemic cut the National Hunt season short in March.
For all the action from Cheltenham and a smattering of top-class Flat racing from Doncaster join the ITV team on ITV4 from 1.30pm this Saturday.
Allmankind was last seen finishing a very respectable third in this year’s Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle. With a new season comes new targets and the Skelton brothers, trainer Dan and jockey Harry, will be hoping they’re speedy 4-year-old hurdler can begin this season in style.
Dan Skelton said: “I’ve been really happy with him pre-season. He’s got a penalty for winning his Grade 1 but you have to live with that. It’s a good competitive race for four-year-olds, but I’m glad he can take them on once more before he has to take on the older horses. He’s fit and should go very well, it’s as simple as that.
Seven Barrow’s supremo Nicky Henderson looks set to make the most of this first big weekend as he aims hot-shot hurdler turned chaser, Fusil Raffles, at a competitive Novices’ Chase following a classy first start over fences less than a month ago.
He faces a number of rivals, but his biggest challenge comes in the form of the Paul Nicholls’-trained Grand Sancy who featured in a number of Grade 2 races last season.
The rangy jumper certainly looked very impressive as he made an eye catching 13 length victory in his opening run of the season just a fortnight ago.
Bryony Frost and Frodon are practically a standing dish at Cheltenham; running with great gusto every time they appear at the track.
The duo really won the heart’s and minds of the public as they laid it all out in 2019 when winning the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Still only 8-years-old, Frodon is very much in the prime years of his career and the Somerset-based team will no doubt have big targets in mind with a likely run at next year’s Cheltenham Festival the end goal.
Brilliant, just brilliant!
Bryony Frost and the tough as teak Frodon battle it out like gladiators up the Cheltenham hill to win the Ryanair Chase.
In the process Frost becomes the first female jockey to ride a G1 winner @CheltenhamRaces.pic.twitter.com/8TMq23NJeU
— Great British Racing (@GBRacing) March 14, 2019
Though the various Jumps titles have been in-play since July it’s at this stage of the season that the protagonists really being to come to the fore.
Reigning champion jockey Brian Hughes currently has a slender lead as he bids to hold on to that much-desired crown.
A host of top-notch jump jockeys will be looking to make inroads into that lead as the winter progresses. Four-time winner, Richard Johnson will be back with a vengeance following an injury hit 2019/20 campaign whilst trainer Paul Nicholls has already declared that he will be doing his all to ensure the title land’s in the hands of youngster Harry Cobden.
Elsewhere, the Trainers Championship looks likely to feature another two-way battle between Nicholls and Henderson. Over the last 15 years the title has always found its way back to either Seven Barrows or Ditcheat; with Henderson winning 4 and Nicholls 11.