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Whilst there have been many superb performances since the start of October, the Open meeting marks the start of the Jumps season proper, with 3 days of superb action at Prestbury Park. With the Jumps firmly taking over our every thought, we have put together a list of 3 horses who are worth watching this weekend and beyond.

PROTEKTORAT (2:15pm (SAT) Paddy Power Gold Cup)

The Skelton yard is starting to hit top gear and there is every chance that PROTEKTORAT will be the proverbial Graded horse in a handicap when he takes his chance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup on Saturday. The likes of Exotic Dancer, Imperial Commander and Al Ferof have won this race in the past before going on to make their marks at the highest level and although Protektorat has some way to go to reach that level, his Novice Chase form would suggest that he is on the right path. A winner of the Novice Chase at this meeting last season, he ended the campaign with a 4-length victory over The Shunter in the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices Chase at Aintree. It won’t be an easy task to win a race this competitive on a mark of 154, but he does look to hold a class edge over most of his rivals and if he can win on these terms, he could well be capable of winning in open company later in the year. Dan Skelton made clear that this was his early season target in a pre-season stable tour and although he hasn’t been able to have a prep run, the yard is more than capable of readying a horse to be ready to go on its comeback.

I LIKE TO MOVE IT (3:30pm (SUN) SkyBet Supreme Trial Novices Hurdle)

Nigel Twiston-Davies has had his best start to a season for 5 years and top of the list of the stables early season winners is I LIKE TO MOVE IT. A high-class bumper performer, he ended the last campaign by finishing a creditable 9th in the Champion bumper here in March. A comfortable 4-length winner of a Worcester maiden hurdle on 7th October, he built on that success when getting the better of Tritonic in the Masterton’s Hurdle over this course and distance 3 weeks ago. He stayed on extremely strongly in the closing stages of that race and with the benefit of that experience, he may well be capable of outstaying some progressive rivals up the Cheltenham hill. The yard has a good record of bringing their better Novices along the Champion bumper route, The New One and Ballyandy spring to mind in that regard, and I Like To Move It certainly has the profile to match based on the form he has shown so far.

PUT THE KETTLE ON (2:20pm (SUN) Shloer Chase)

Last season’s Champion Chase winner has won at this meeting on each of the last 2 seasons, but despite having a perfect record of 4 wins from 4 starts at Cheltenham, she is continuously underestimated. She is an extremely admirable mare who clearly relishes the unique challenges that the old course brings and her battling effort to win in March typified her tenacious attitude. She holds most of her rivals here on that form and as a 7-year-old, there is likely to still be some further improvement in her, so it is not impossible to suggest that she could be capable of coming back in March to defend her crown, in which case she should prove very hard to beat on Sunday.


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