FIVE-year-old Corniche can strike a blow for novice chasers by winning the first running of the £80,000 Thomas Pink Gold Cup (originally the Mackeson and later the Murphy's) at Cheltenham tomorrow.

More than half of the 40 runnings of this prestigious race have gone to seven (11 wins) and eight-year-olds (13 wins) with nine-year-olds (eight) next.

But that mould was broken in 1998 when Martin Pipe sent out Cyfor Malta to score at the tender age of five.

Now it could be the turn of Corniche from the Nigel Twiston-Davies stable to strike for the younger brigade in this Showcase Handicap over two and a half miles.

He booked his place with an impressive display of front-running in a novice event over two miles here last week.

Corniche was so far in front after the last fence that he was eased down to a walk by Carl Llewellyn in the closing stages yet still won by 11 lengths from Big Perks.

It is a big step up from that Class 'C' contest to this Grade Three event but Corniche looks a class act and Twiston-Davies knows what it takes to lift this prize as he was successful with the seven-year-old Tipping Tim in 1992.

He is not exactly without experience as he took in three races last spring in his second season -- on the final occasion he was third to the smart Cenkos at Aintree.

Corniche was a 20-1 shot earlier in the week but has been backed down to 12-1 in the last two days as confidence in him has grown.

Twiston-Davies can also strike with Beau in the Intervet Trophy Handicap Chase.

The seven-year-old was a revelation last term, coming through the novice ranks in tremendous style and ending with victory over seasoned campaigners in the Whitbread Gold Cup at Sandown in April.

He was also an excellent runner-up to Marlborough, beaten two and a half lengths in the National Hunt Handicap Chase over this course and distance at the Festival last March.

Success on his reappearance tomorrow would strengthen Beau's claim for the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury in two weeks' time for which he is 10-1 second favourite with William Hill.

Irish raider Lord Of The Chase looks the one to be on in the Highfield Social Club Bicester Novices' Chase.

Charlie Swan's charge got off the mark over fences when short-heading Masseuse in a 19-runner affair at Fairyhouse in only his second race since 18 months off the track.

Tremallt can follow up his Charisma Gold Cup victory in the Edward Hanmer Memorial Chase at Haydock.

He held off The Land Agent by a short head at Kempton and will be suited by the likely testing conditions over this three miles.

Mirjan took the valuable Crowther Homes Swinton Handicap Hurdle here in May and can repeat the trick for Carrutherstown trainer Len Lungo in the Kay Ell Jay Handicap Hurdle.

Spirit Of Park can give Lungo an across-the-card double by capturing theCarrick Riding For the Disabled Association Juvenile Novices' Hurdle at Ayr.

The three-year-old has looked an above average recruit, winning all his three races to date in highly-promising style.

The way he disposed of Sunday Rain by nine lengths at Wetherby recently suggests that he should have little trouble completing a four-timer.