National Hunt racing at Cheltenham returns with The Showcase meeting on Friday and Saturday

On The Slopes won twice at Kempton Park before racing was suspended in March. (Pic: Courtesy of Jockey Club Racecourses).

Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:

Top horse-racing tips and the latest news.

NATIONAL Hunt racing returns to the fore as Cheltenham host their first race meeting of the season with The Showcase meeting on Friday and Saturday.

The Showcase is the first fixture at Cheltenham since The Festival™ in March which was successfully concluded just four days before horse racing in the UK was suspended on March 17.

Racing has successfully continued ‘behind closed doors’ in recent months and the safety precaution continues at all meetings including The Showcase, where On The Slopes heads the betting at 4-1 for the feature race on Friday, the two mile, Class 2, Bentley Flying Spur Handicap Chase.

Adam Wedge takes the ride on the Chris Gordon trained six-year-old – who was in great form when the last jump season was brought to a premature halt – bagging a brace of novice chases at Kempton Park in February and March. 

Both wins were on Good to Soft Ground and Hampshire-based Gordon hopes the forecast rain eventuates at the Gloucester track where the going this morning (Wednesday) was officially Good, with a forecast of up to 6mm of rain today.

“On The Slopes is in great order and the plan is to run,” Gordon said.  

“I would like some more rain for him – the ground would preferably be on the easy side of good. 

“Cheltenham are due some rain today and fingers crossed they get some. It is tricky at the declaration stage, but we would obviously like to run and he will as long as they get some rain. 

“He finished last season really strongly and this looks a nice first target. He is in fine form at home.”

On The Slopes’ main market rival is likely to be the Harry Whittington-trained Rouge Vif, who will be ridden by Daryl Jacob in the £48,000 feature which is televised live on ITV4 at 3.35pm.

A decisive winner of the Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick in February, Rouge Vif was last seen out when third over the course and distance in the Grade 1 Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase at The Festival™.

Horse Talk with Simon Jackson. Showcasing horse racing in London and the south east.