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Exciting Championship Novice Hurdles Entries for The Festival

The entries have been revealed revealed for the four championship novices’ hurdles run at the Cheltenham Festival from Tuesday, March 12, to Friday, March 15.

© Caroline Norris


A total of 94 entries have been received, including 30 from Ireland and two from France, for The Festival curtain raiser, the Grade One William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle over two miles. Jezki, trained in Ireland by Jessica Harrington and now owned by J P McManus, heads the possible contenders after two impressive Grade One victories at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown in December. He is 7/2 favourite with
sponsor William Hill. Un Atout (7/1) is one of seven entries for Irish champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins, while the home challenge features River Maigue, Dodging Bullets, Melodic Rendezvous and Puffin Billy.

The last two named horses are also among the 119 entries for the Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, run over an extended two and a half miles on Wednesday, March 13. Jonjo O’Neill’s potential representatives include Taquin Du Seuil, who won the Grade One Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury, while Nigel Twiston-Davies has entered The New One. Among the 35 Irish-trained entries is Grade One Navan Novice Hurdle victor Pont Alexandre and facile Grade Two Slaney Novice Hurdle scorer Rule The World, from the stable of Mouse Morris.

Festival Trials Day winner At Fishers Cross headlines 107 entries for the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over three miles on Friday, March 15. He could clash again with course and distance winner Coneygree, while David Pipe’s nine entries include Grands Crus’ full-brother Gevrey Chambertin, who is three from three over hurdles. Ireland’s challenge is once again led by a formidable team from the stable of Willie Mullins, which includes Pont Alexandre, dual hurdle winner Ballycasey and last season’s Wetherbys Champion Bumper hero Champagne Fever.

© Caroline Norris

Anonis, trained by Willie’s former sister-in-law, Margaret (Mags) Mullins, has been entered for all three races but his trainer is yet to decide his Festival target. The lightly-raced seven-year-old fell when still travelling well in a Grade Two at Leopardstown on Sunday won by Pont Alexandre, but had previously looked a horse of considerable potential with comfortable successes at Leopardstown over Christmas and in a Listed bumper at Cheltenham in November.

Mags Mullins revealed: “I’m not sure which race will be his target yet – I will leave that to Barry (Connell, owner) – but he is just a little bit sore at the moment and we will just have to see how he is over the next few days.

“He looked as if he might have given the winner a race on Sunday and it was disappointing to fall as it does take its toll. I don’t know if I will be able to get another run into him into him before Cheltenham as it’s
getting a bit close now.

“He is definitely good enough to go to Cheltenham – I think he is very good – and if I have him right, we will definitely be going to The Festival.

“Barry was talking about the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle or the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle but he looked good when he won his bumper at Cheltenham over two miles. I thought he would win that race at Cheltenham because he beat that good horse of Tony Martin’s in a schooling bumper two weeks before so I was very confident - I didn’t go over to Cheltenham for a holiday!

Rolling Star
© Racehorse Photos

Rolling Star
“The form of his maiden hurdle win at Leopardstown is working out very well – four or five winners have come out of it – and it would have been lovely to get a clear round on Sunday as the fall has left me in no man’s land.”

The Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle, run over an extended two miles for four-year-olds on Friday, March 15, has attracted a total of 58 entries. Nicky Henderson has annexed five JCB Triumph Hurdles and his five entries include Festival Trials Day victor Rolling Star, while champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls’ six entries feature dual course winner Far West and Irish Saint. The 15 Irish contenders are headed by Our
Conor, trained by Dessie Hughes, and Diakali, who is one of seven engaged for Willie Mullins.

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