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Final Festival Entries Revealed

Entries for the final four of the 25 contests to close at The Festival 2008 are revealed today, including the new Grade Two David Nicholson Mares Hurdle, run on Friday, March 14.

There are a total of 31 entries in the extended two and a half mile contest including the Bowe family’s new star Sweet Kiln and a powerful quintet from Nicky Henderson’s stable - Amaretto Rose, Chomba Womba, Shatabdi, My Petra and Doubly Guest.

But there would be no more poignant winner than Theatre Girl, trained by David Nicholson’s long-term former assistant Alan King.

“The intention is to run. She did very well when a close second at Doncaster against Nicky's (Henderson) mare - Chomba Womba,” said King. "Theatre Girl is a smashing mare. She was a good bumper horse last season and, while she is only a novice this season, the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle looks the logical route to go. She has never raced beyond two miles yet but we all feel that two and a half miles might help her.

"She had entries in the Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle but this seems the race - she is an 8/1 chance - fourth in the betting - and is entitled to be there. Of course I would love to win the first running of the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle but that is not the reason she is in the race.”

Irish-trained raiders have won 12 of the 15 runnings of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper and account for 19 of the 47 entries this year including Zaarito, trained by Colm Murphy, while Willie Mullins, who has saddled five previous winners, has four entered including Apt Approach, an impressive winner at Gowran Park on February 16, and Lilywhitedancer.

The home team includes the David Pipe-trained Big Eared Fran, who was sold after winning his only start for trainer Tor Sturgis, and Gold Award, who looks set to be the Queen’s first ever Festival runner.

The four-mile Peter O’Sullevan National Hunt Chase has a new title this year to celebrate the 90th birthday of “The Voice Of Racing”. There are 56 entries, including 18 from Ireland while the Christie’s Foxhunter Chase has 43 entered including last year’s victor Drombeag and 10 from Ireland, among them the rapidly improving Agus A Vic.

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