Cheltenham Festival 2008 

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Philip Hobbs Eyes Second Seasons Holidays Champion Chase Victory

Philip Hobbs saddled Flagship Uberalles to a tremendous triumph in the 2002 Grade One Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.15pm) and the Minehead trainer bids for a second victory in Wednesday’s two-mile championship with Fair Along.

The diminutive but extremely enthusiastic Fair Along (Richard Johnson farside)

Fair Along

The six-year-old is one of 11 declared runners for day two’s fantastic feature. The others are the Alan King-trained reigning champion Voy Por Ustedes, the Paul Nicholls-trained pair of Master Minded and Twist Magic, the classy David Pipe-trained Tamarinbleu and the 2006 hero Newmill as well as Mansony, Schindler’s Hunt, Lennon, Azulejo and Contraband.

Fair Along, runner-up to My Way De Solzen in last season’s Grade One Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy, was fourth to Kauto Star in the Grade One Commercial First Ascot Chase over an extended two miles, five furlongs on February 16. That was Fair Along’s first outing in over three months.

Hobbs revealed: “I was really pleased with his run at Ascot last time after a winter break and he has come on for that. He has a bit to find with the best of them but we’re hopeful. He hasn’t had a problem, we just decided to give him a rest after Exeter in November.

“He appreciates good ground so he doesn’t want too much rain to come down in the next couple of days - he’s in very good form though.”

Hobbs hopes to kick-off the Festival with a solid effort from Snap Tie in Tuesday’s opener, the Grade One Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2.00pm). The six-year-old has one win and three runner-up finishes from five starts at the course.

Snap Tie’s course and distance triumph came in October when taking the Club 16-24 Maiden Hurdle by 12 lengths. Most recently he was a length runner-up, conceding 8lb to the winner Calgary Bay, in the EBF/ National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on December 14.

Hobbs reported: “I certainly hope Snap Tie has a big chance. He will possibly be suited by a more competitive type of race and he should get that tomorrow, although he is another that would not want too much rain.”

Hobbs’ challenge on Tuesday also includes Ring The Boss, who notched a five-timer over hurdles earlier in the campaign and heads to the Grade One Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (2.35pm), despite only one previous outing over fences, and last season’s totepsort Gold cup fourth Monkerhostin (Grade Three William Hill Trophy Chase - 4.00pm). The latter was last seen when third in the Cashback Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on December 14.

The Somerset handler commented: “Ring The Boss’s first run over fences was very good, conceding 5lb to a good mare and he actually wouldn’t mind the rain.

“We took a view that if he could run in the Arkle and run well, then that would be better than winning a little novice chase somewhere.

“The only reason Monkerhostin had a break was that he is better in the spring and he likes the better ground. We are looking forward to a good run from him.”

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