The focus of the racing world is on the Grand National this weekend, but Cheltenham’s April Meeting is now less than a week away.
Following on from the Cheltenham Festival of last month, the two-day spring fixture is hosted for the first time in two years after last season’s card was cancelled due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.
Once again, the card will be hosted behind-closed doors with all hopes on a crowd return lying on next season’s October Showcase opener.
The Grade 1 action may cease, but there’s still some cracking action at Prestbury Park under the glorious post-Easter sun at the April Meeting.
We take a look back at three previous runners at the meeting four months deep into the year who have gone onto land success at the March showpiece at a later stage in their career.
Will we witness a potential Festival successor across the 14 contests during next week’s renewal?
INDEFATIGABLE | 2019
Paul Webber’s mare breezed to Listed victory in Gloucestershire two years ago under Gavin Sheehan.
Having finished a very creditable fifth in the Mares’ Novices’ a month before, the daughter of Schiapareilli went four places better on her Cheltenham return and coasted home by ten lengths from second placed The Cull Bank.
She went onto finish second once again at the track in December behind subsequent Coral Cup heroine Dame De Compagnie, before achieving Festival glory of her own in the Martin Pipe.
DAME DE COMPAGNIE | 2018
The aforementioned Nicky Henderson star once tasted an April Meeting victory herself back in 2018 when also landing the Mares’ Listed race.
Despite a heavy defeat in the Supreme Trial in the November, she ran back to form at Ascot before proving too strong for a field of her own sex.
She wouldn’t been seen again for 19 months when finishing sixth in the Greatwood, with that run proving pivotal to her International Meeting gold medal four weeks on.
At the Festival, she secured her finest hour under usual rider and the now retired Barry Geraghty, landing the Coral Cup as a 9/2 favourite in what proved to be a hugely fruitful day for owner JP McManus.
She saw off the 2021 Mares Hurdle victor Black Tears in the process, albeit that rival heavily overturned the form with the Lucarno eight-year-old in March.
WILLIAM HENRY | 2017
Another Henderson representative, albeit no longer, but William Henry once landed April stardom under Davy Russell as an 8/15 favourite.
He’d finished second at the track behind Wholestone in the Classic on Trials Day previously and made the most of his freshness from bypassing the Festival to secure the odds for punters and connections with relative ease.
It would take one effort more than the two previously mentioned before him, having finished fourth in the Coral Cup in 2018 off a mark of 151, but off the same weight twelve months later, he pipped Festival legend Wicklow Brave at the post under Nico de Boinville.