The three-day Open meeting is the early season highlight of the 2016/2017 Jump season, featuring the £160,000 BetVictor Gold Cup (2.25pm, Saturday) and the £100,000 StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle (2.30pm, Sunday).
Trainers Nicky Henderson and Jonjo O’Neill, plus Harry Derham, assistant to champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls, and jockey Tom Scudamore were on hand at Kempton Park to discuss their runners over the three days.
Nicky Henderson said: “The Open is always a great meeting and big weekend from everyone’s point of view. It has been ridiculously dry and everybody needs to get started. It looks like there is going to be nice ground, just as it was at The Showcase.”
“Full Shift was a bit disappointing at Cheltenham the last day over three miles. He is very talented but he didn’t jump as well as he could. He has come back from that very well so we left him in the BetVictor Gold Cup this morning. We have taken out our other horse, Triolo d’Alene, because we haven’t been able to get a run into him yet.”
“Hargam (StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle) is in that impossible place at the moment. His win at Kempton last time warranted him being dropped in the handicap (2lb) and thankfully he was because he is not a Grade One horse.”
“He is not the biggest in the world so carrying top-weight in a handicap isn’t going to be ideal. Consul de Thaix would need significant rain, but could easily run, and Brain Power is likely to go for that as well.”
“Simonsig is the other big runner on Sunday in the Shloer Chase (1.55pm). He has had a good preparation for once, without hiccups, and seems in great form. He has been a bit disappointing because, when you win a Neptune and an Arkle, you think you can go anywhere.”
“Like Sprinter Sacre last year, he comes into this no penalties because he hasn’t won a race for three years. His last run over fences at Punchestown was encouraging. He had a run over hurdles in France after that but the ground was very testing which is no good to him. He is fresh and well.”
“If Cheltenham get the rain, then O O Seven is a novice to look forward to in the Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase (Friday, 2.05pm) – he is a pretty talented horse. He has schooled very well and his technique looks very good.”
Simonsig looks the weekends banker in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on the Sunday.
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