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Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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Henderson Waiting on Bellvano Cheltenham Decision

Nicky Henderson took potential Irish Independent Arkle Chase challenger Bellvano to Kempton on Saturday to gallop before racing and school over a few fences, but no decision has yet been taken as to whether the former smart novice hurdler will take his chance in the two-mile novice chasing championship race, writes Elliot Slater.



Henderson already has the more experienced Finian's Rainbow in the race but has not ruled out the possibility of the seven-year-old Bellvano taking his chance as well, even though he has had only outing over fences so far when finishing a close second to Hold Fast at Southwell in early January, a race for which he started long odds-on favourite and had appeared to have matters under control until blundering badly two from home, a mistake from which he failed to recover in time. The Cheltenham betting will certainly make him something of an outsider if he takes his chance.

Last season Bellvano moved on from the previous promise of his two wins in bumper company to establish himself amongst the leading novice hurdlers in the country. After winning at Newbury on his hurdles bow he went to Kempton on Boxing Day 2009 and was made an odds-on favourite to win, but found the subsequently top class Menorah 12-lengths too good for him and had to settle for the runner's-up spot. A win at Newbury next time out showed he was back on track and he went next to the Cheltenham Festival, eventually finishing down the field in the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle.

Long held in high regard at Seven Barrows, Bellvano appeared to jump well at Kempton last weekend during his schooling round and looked to most observers to be in very good heart. His owner JP McManus will make a decision about the 'Arkle' in due course, a race for which the Silvano gelding is currently on offer at 40/1 in the ante-post market.

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