Trainer Philip Hobbs has enjoyed a good start to the 2018/19 Jump season, with 21 winners on the board so far, and is looking forward to the first Cheltenham meeting, The Showcase, on October 26 and 27.
Hobbs is hoping that classy four-year-old Gumball will line up in the £40,000 Masterson Holdings Hurdle (2.35pm), which takes place over two miles on day two of The Showcase at Cheltenham, Saturday, October 27.
The son of No Risk At All enjoyed a fine 2017/18 campaign, which included taking second in the G1 Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree's Randox Health Grand National Festival in April.
The grey, who runs in the colours of Champion Hurdle-winning owner Terry Warner, finished last season with a ready six-length success over two miles in a novice event at Ludlow on April 24. He was also successful in the early part of the season with two comfortable victories at Chepstow and Stratford in October, 2017.
Hobbs, who trains at Sandhill Racing Stables, Bilbrook, Somerset, revealed: "Gumball had a very good time of it last season and ran some excellent races, particularly in the G1 event at Aintree.
"It is never easy with four-year-olds going into this second season, but we are aiming him at the Masterson Holdings Hurdle at Cheltenham at the end of October.
"Hopefully, he has another good season."
First run in 2009, the Masterson Holdings Hurdle has rapidly established itself as an attractive early-season target for four-year-old hurdlers.
The roll of honour includes Tiger Roll, who took the spoils for owner Gigginstown House Stud and trainer Gordon Elliott in 2014. Tiger Roll had landed the G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle earlier in 2014 and has since won another two races at The Festival™ presented by Magners - the 2017 National Hunt Chase and the 2018 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.
Following his Festival success in 2018, Tiger Roll went on to gain the biggest prize in Jump racing, the £1-million Randox Health Grand National at Aintree.
Other high-class winners of the Masterson Holdings Hurdle include Dodging Bullets (2012), who was subsequently successful in the 2015 G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and Sceau Royal (2016), who progressed to score at G2 level over hurdles and G1 level over fences.
Hes No Trouble set for The Showcase
Hes No Trouble is one of three horses for the new racehorse ownership syndicate, The Jockey Club Cheltenham & South West Syndicate which has just been launched.
The first racehorse ownership syndicate organised by the Cheltenham & South West region of The Jockey Club was a great success during the 2016/17 and 2017/18 Jump campaigns.
For a one-off fee of £2,950, membership of The Jockey Club Cheltenham & South West Syndicate lasts for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 Jump seasons and includes the racing of three horses and membership of Cheltenham, Exeter, Warwick and Wincanton racecourses as well as plenty of other benefits and experiences.
Hes No Trouble is set to make his first start under Rules this autumn, having won his only start to date in a point-to-point at Dromahane, Ireland, on April 22 when he was successful by three lengths.
The five-year-old son of Scorpion, sire of 2017 RSA Chase victor and 2018 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup second Might Bite, is out of She's No Trouble, herself a full-sister to 2000 Cheltenham Gold Cup scorer Looks Like Trouble.
Trained by Kim Bailey, Hes No Trouble is pleasing the trainer and a tilt at The Showcase meeting is a possibility.
Bailey, who trains near to Cheltenham at Thorndale Farm in Andoversford, Gloucestershire, said: "I'm very honoured to be training for The Jockey Club Cheltenham & South West Syndicate and hopefully Hes No Trouble can be a horse who does very well for them.
"He has had one run in a point-to-point and has worked well at home. We hope to start him off at one of the earlier Cheltenham meetings, either at The Showcase or The November Meeting. He is a very nice horse with a big future.
"We are delighted to have our first horse for the syndicate and he's very much a chaser in the making."
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 Randox Health-sponsored handicap chases run on Saturday, October 26.
The two contests (one run over two miles and the other over three miles and a furlong) both have a total prize fund of £60,000 (up from £50,000 in 2017).
The Showcase 2018 Race Programme
Friday, October 26
Time Race Distance Prize Money
2:00 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle 2m 5f £20,000
2:35 Squareintheair.Com Novices' Chase 1m 7f 199y £25,000
3:10 Brandon Hill Capital Handicap Hurdle (0-140) 2m 5f £15,400
3:45 Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices' Chase 3m 80y £25,000
4:20 The Centaur Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase (0-125) 3m 1f £15,000
4:55 Foundation Developments Ltd Maiden Hurdle 2m 87y £15,000
5:30 Experience The Theatre At The Festival Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (0-140) 2m 87y £15,000
Saturday, October 27
Time Race Distance Prize Money
2.00 Randoxhealth.Com Handicap Chase 3m 1f £60,000
2:35 Masterson Holdings Hurdle 2m 87y £40,000
3:10 Randox Health Handicap Chase 1m 7f 199y £60,000
3:45 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier) 2m 7f 208y £25,000
4:20 Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices' Chase 2m 3f 166y £25,000
4:55 Junior Jumpers Novices' Hurdle 2m 7f 208y £15,000
5:30 Jockey Club Venues Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race 2m 87y £15,000
Meeting Total £370,400