Meeting - The Boylesports International, Dates - Friday, December 14 & Saturday, December 15
Advance Admission Prices
Friday, Club/Tattersalls £18, Best Mate £8;
Saturday, Club £27, Tattersalls £20, Best Mate £10
Gates Open - 10am both days
First race - 12.10pm Friday, 12.20pm Saturday
Last season’s champion juvenile hurdler Katchit is aiming to maintain his perfect record at Prestbury Park in the prestigious £200,000 Grade Two Boylesports.com International over two miles and one furlong at Cheltenham on Saturday, December 15.
The gelding’s trainer, Alan King, revealed today: “Katchit is still being aimed at the Boylesports.com International at Cheltenham and, providing I am happy with him next week, he will go there.”
The exciting and popular four-year-old has won each of his four starts at the course, culminating with an impressive nine-length victory over Liberate in the Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival in March.
Having added a further Grade One contest at Aintree in April, Katchit made a winning seasonal return at the Merseyside track in October, before meeting older rivals for the first time in the WBX.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on December 1. King’s charge ran with great credit in the Northeast, finishing just over three lengths third behind seasoned Grade One winners Harchibald and Al Eile.
The Barbury Castle handler continued: “I was perfectly happy with his run at Newcastle. We always said it was going to be tough for him taking on older horses but he was staying on at the finish and I think Cheltenham will suit him better. He has won four out of four there so we will see whether he can make it five.
“The handicapper actually dropped him a pound after the Fighting Fifth, which would indicate that he didn’t think he ran up to his best but I still think it was a very good run.
“Katchit is fairly adaptable so I am not going to worry too much at this stage about the ground. It is all systems go at this point.”
Katchit could face a strong field of Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle hopefuls in the Boylesports.com International, including reigning champion Sublimity, trained in Ireland by John Carr.
Triple Grade One winner and 2006 Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle runner-up Mac’s Joy is also reported by trainer Jessica Harrington to be a possible runner in the lucrative Grade Two contest, while fellow Grade One hero Straw Bear, trained by Nick Gifford, is set to make his seasonal bow in the race.
The Nicky Henderson-trained Afsoun is also an intended participant. The Trevor Hemmings-owned five-year-old, third to Sublimity in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle in March was runner-up to dual champion hurdler Hardy Eustace at Ascot on November 24.
Nicky Richards may run Faasel, runner-up in the 2005 JCB Triumph Hurdle, who also holds an engagement in the Boylesports.com Gold Cup.
The Boylesports.com International carries a fantastic £200,000 bonus for any horse that can win the race and follow up in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at The Festival in March.
The race is the feature event of a fantastic seven-race card on Saturday, December 15, which is the concluding day of the two-day Boylesports International meeting.
Saturday’s exciting action also includes the £150,000 Grade Three Boylesports.com Gold Cup (2.40pm) over two miles and five furlongs.
The highlight on Friday, December 14 is the £100,000 Listed Boylesports.com Cashback Chase (1.20pm) over three miles, one and a half furlongs.
The going is currently good at Cheltenham after the Gloucestershire course missed much of the recent rain.