sport

Bradley on the beat

Bradley is on course for a return to Cheltenham for the inaugural running of the Grade Three Henrietta Knight Handicap Chase.

The race honours the Wantage-based trainer, who announced her retirement in May. Knight trained seven winners at The Festival and will be forever associated with the great Best Mate, winner of the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Bradley made an encouraging reappearance at The Showcase when coming home fourth in the Ryman The Stationer Handicap Chase over an extended three miles on October 20.

He won the Champion Hunters' Chase at Cheltenham in May having previously finished second to the talented Ashkazar in the Ian Williams Racing Handicap Chase at The April Meeting.

Trainer Fergal O'Brien, who is based in Gloucestershire, said: "We are looking at the Henrietta Knight Handicap Chase with Bradley. He has come out of his run at The Showcase in good form and hopefully we get him to The Open in one piece.

"It was an ideal first run the last day. He got hampered at the second last - it didn't cost him the win but it probably cost him a place.

"If Paddy (Brennan) really got stuck into him at the top of the hill he would have been a bit closer but that wasn't the plan as we have a long season ahead of us.

"I'm never confident as I'm quite a pessimistic person but I will be hopeful of a very good run from him at The Open. In those three mile races he just lacks that gear when they quicken up but he does stay well, so the extra half mile will suit him.

"I think there is a bit more to come from him especially in these long distance chases. I don't think he would be a horse for the Grand National because he is not the biggest but a Welsh National on good ground would be ideal."

The Open kicks off with Countryside Day on Friday, November 16, which features a six-race card headlined by the 45,000 Paddypower.com Handicap Chase over two miles. The card also includes the 25,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase and the 25,000 Grade Two Opus Energy Novices' Hurdle over an extended two miles.

The 160,000 Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup is the highlight of The Open on Saturday, November 17, and the extended two and half mile handicap chase has been won by some of Jump racing's biggest names since it's inception in 1960. In 2008 the race was won by Imperial Commander, who went on to win the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2010.

A terrific card on Saturday also features the 25,000 Grade Two JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial over an extended two miles.

Sunday's showpiece is the 100,000 Grade Three Racing Post Hurdle over an extended two miles which can be a key pointer to the Stan James Champion Hurdle at The Festival in March. The final day of The Open also includes the 50,000 Shloer Chase over two miles and the 25,000 Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs.