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Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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cheltenham festival / 2011 news /

By Billy Blakeman ValueChecker

Irish hopes high for So Young & Garde Champetre at Cheltenham

The Cheltenham Festival is getting very close now it seems and a couple of Irish hopefuls impressed in winning their respective prep-races on Wednesday.

Garde Champetre

Garde Champetre

The Willie Mullins trained novice hurdler So Young was amongst the market fancies for the Neptune Novices' Hurdle and after a facile success at Punchestown, leading Irish firm Paddy Power cut the ex-french gelding to 8/1 (from 10/1). Given that the SP was only 1-6, a comfortable win could reasonably have been expected but even so, it was hard not to be impressed.

Garde Champetre has seen and done it all before and the old boy won the 3-mile chase on the Bank Course at Punchestown to book his place in the Cross Country race at Cheltenham. Having won the race in both 2008 and 2009, he will be a popular punt both sides of the water and is currently 9/2 favourite, ahead of stablemate L’Ami.

Huntingdon are forecasting heavy rain for Thursday so the ground may well ease from it’s current status as ‘good’, something to bear in mind. The handicap chase at 2.10 looks very open but the top weighted Cesium should not be overlooked. This is easier than some of the races he has been contesting and he is still a young horse at the age of 6. Granted, his two runs back from a decent break have been poor so there is some faith required but the tongue-tie and cheekpiece combination could well help. Quel Bruere is capable of winning on a good day off his mark and he rates next best.

Recommendation: Huntingdon 2.10 - Cesium


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