Three New Handicaps Superbly Supported
Outstanding entries are revealed today (Thursday, February 17) for The Festival’s three new handicaps - The Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase, Sporting Index Handicap Chase and Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
The inaugural £80,000 Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase, run on Thursday, March 17, promises to be a fiercely competitive affair with most of the 86 entries coming into the 2m 5f event with excellent recent form. My Will and War Of Attrition are among the highest-rated entries while the Henry Daly-trained Liverpool Echo, Thieves’Glen, a winner at Leicester on Wednesday for Hughie Morrison, Oliver Sherwood’s Fantasmic as well as Headliner and Tanterari, two of Martin Pipe’s five entries, are among many others with strong form.
There are 51 entries for the £40,000 Sporting Index Handicap Chase, to be run over Cheltenham’s unique cross-country course on Tuesday, March 15, with Spot Thedifference - successful in cross-country events at Prestbury Park in November and December - likely to be a warm favourite.
Although the Czech-trained mare Registana is a surprise absentee from the race, it provides a new opportunity for a string of past big-race winners. Commanche Court, winner of the JCB Triumph Hurdle in 1997, could bid for further Festival glory eight years on while his stablemate Rince Ri, winner of the 2002 Pillar Property Chase, has also been entered as have the likes of Lord Noelie (2000 Royal & SunAlliance Chase), Supreme Glory (2001 Coral Welsh National), and The Bunny Boiler (2002 Irish Grand National).
The new four-year-olds’ event, the £75,000 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle run on Tuesday, March 15, has attracted 96 entries and looks set to perfectly complement the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle. No less than 51 (53 per cent) of the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle entries are not entered in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
The race promises to be a very competitive affair with a whole hosts of smart juveniles engaged, including 20 from Ireland and one trained in France. Among those entered are three-time winner Faasel, Loyal Focus, winner of his only start for Dermot Weld, the unbeaten Don’t Call Me Derek, Gift Voucher, successful on his only run for Paul Webber, and the Alan King-trained Penzance.
Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham’s Managing Director, said: "There can hardly be a more competitive event than the Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase, for which we are delighted to have received 86 entries. Meanwhile, to have attracted 96 entries for the first Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, of whom less than half are in the JCB Triumph Hurdle, demonstrates how the race provides an opportunity for many four-year-olds who would not otherwise have run at The Festival.
"We are also thrilled to have attracted 51 entries, including a string of household names, for the first cross-country event to be run at The Festival, the Sporting Index Chase."
Entries for The Festival’s remaining seven handicaps are announced on Monday, February 21.
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