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The countdown is firmly on with Cheltenham Festival which will take place in March 2020.

The festival will showcase the best of Irish and British thoroughbreds racing over a four-day period, this form of racing is ultra-competitive therefore choosing a winner won’t be easy so expect your annual battle with the bookies.

The November meeting at Cheltenham often unearths leading candidates.

This year's three day meeting was no exception with Defi Du Seuil landing the Grade 2 Shloer Chase in fine style. He has since gone on to follow-up in a thrilling Grade 1 Tingle Creek at Sandown to thrust himself to the forefront of the betting for the Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase - the highlight on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Philip Hobbs already a dual Grade 1 winner at the Cheltenham Festival having captured the Triumph Hurdle in 2017 and this year's JLT Novices' Chase and 2m Grade 2 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle with Thyme Hill performing at the highest level of horse racing.

The five-year-old, who finished third to Envoi Allen has been deemed red-hot for this year's Cheltenham Festival, a win in the Persian War Novices' Hurdle at Chepstow by beating Champagne Well by three lengths.

The 2m 4f Ballymore Novices' Hurdle is now the target for the five-year-old in March, with Hobbs completing the double with Massini's Maguire in the 2006/07 season.

There are many leading trials that take place at other tracks, those meetings include The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival at Newbury at which there were several star performances.

Among them will be Champ, for whom nothing went right in the 2m 4f Grade 2 Berkshire Novices' - but he still got the job done in style to maintain his unbeaten record over the larger obstacles.

Then you have the trained seven-year old -Nicky Henderson, who is named after 20-time champion jump jockey Sir Anthony McCoy, having won over 2m 6f at the track on a seasonal reappearance.

He looks the real deal and is currently anti post favorite for the RSA Chase at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

Emma Lavelle is an impressive winner of the Stayers; Hurdle at this year's Cheltenham Festival and landing the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle but will he retain his crown in four months’ time?

In Ireland, many stars have already been in action at Punchestown, Saldier put in an incredible performance when overcoming a lengthy absence to make a winning return to action in the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle which confirms him as a leading contender for the Champion Hurdle.

With Gordon Elliott trained duo Envoi Allen and Fakir D'oudairies also put in impressive displays.

The former, who is unbeaten was triumphant in the Champion Bumper at this year's meeting, so going to be extremely difficult to beat in whichever hurdle he rocks up in. Fakir D'oudairies, meanwhile, has the Arkle trophy Chase firmly in his sights.

With trials taking place at Kempton and Leopards town over the Christmas period and at Cheltenham in February, trainers, jockeys and horses can also test themselves at Prestbury Park.

The 2m 1f Finesse Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle, also called the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial for sponsorship reasons, is a Grade 2 contest for four-year-old horses. Sponsored title suggests, the race is a prep run for those aiming for triumph at the Cheltenham Festival. Katchit (2007), Peace and Co (2015) and Defi Du Seuil (2017) are among the horses that landed this trial on route to Festival glory.

The main event, the 3m 1f Grade 2 Cotswold chase in Cheltenham’s Festival trials day. Although this is the key prep for any horse going onto the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the record of recent winners has been poor, perhaps due to the chasings’ blue riband contest six weeks prior.

Some of the top race horses have won the Cleeve Hurdle before racing at Cheltenham Festival. This 3m test has been won by the likes of Inglis Drever (2008), the great Big Buck’s (2009, 2012) Thistlecrack (2016) and Paisley park (2019) who all went onto Stayers’ Hurdle.

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