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Record Entries for Cheltenham Handicaps

A new record total of 1,145 entries was revealed today for the 11 handicaps at The Festival, which takes place at Cheltenham from Tuesday, March 12 to Friday, March 15 inclusive.

The previous record number of entries for the 11 handicaps was 1,097 in 2009. In addition, Irish trainers have made more entries than ever before for the current programme of 11 handicaps - 302 as against the previous highest of 227 last year.

The Festival opens on Champion Day, Tuesday, March 12 with the £90,000 JLT Specialty Handicap Chase (95 entries) over an extended three miles, the £50,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Steeple Chase (45 entries, including five from five) over three miles and seven furlongs and the £60,000 Pulteney Land Investments Novices' Handicap Chase (86 entries) over an extended two and a half miles.

Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 13, features the £80,000 Coral Cup, the two mile, five furlong handicap hurdle which has attracted a record entry of 166 (previous highest total was 150 in 2009) as well as the £75,000 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (63 entries) over an extended two miles.

Sam Winner is the antepost favourite for the Pertemps Final
© Racehorse Photos

Sam Winner
St Patrick's Thursday, March 14 features three handicaps and there are a record 102 entries in the two mile, five furlong £90,000 Byrne Group Plate Handicap Chase, while there are 94 for the £80,000 Pertemps Final (Handicap Hurdle) over three miles and 105 for the £60,000 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase over an extended three miles and a furlong for amateur riders.

Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 15, also hosts three hugely-competitive handicaps and there are 121 engaged in the £80,000 Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle over an extended two miles, 197 in the £50,000 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle over an extended two and a half miles and 71 in the £90,000 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase over two miles, which brings The Festival to a close.

David Pipe is still trying to win the race named in honour of his record-breaking father and has no less than 14 entries to choose from in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap, while Nicky Henderson has six entries in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase, run in honour of his late father and which he has won twice previously.

Weights for all 11 handicaps will be revealed at the Cheltenham Countdown on Wednesday, February 27. This media event is held at Cheltenham Racecourse and includes the unveiling of the weights, the announcement of the last four entries and the latest news about The Festival. There is also the chance to talk to or interview trainers, of whom at least 10 will be present, and racecourse offcials.

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