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Cheltenham News 15th - 18th March 2005

Cheltenham 2005

Cheltenham 2005 / news/

Novice Chases Attract Star-studded Entries

The Festival’s two Grade One novice chases, The Irish Independent Arkle Chase and the Royal & SunAlliance Chase, are set to showcase a whole array of potential champions following publication of the entries for both races today.

The Irish Independent Arkle Chase, run on Tuesday, March 15, has 48 entries with trainers Paul Nicholls and Martin Pipe, who have taken five of the last seven runnings, respectively having four and six engaged.

Nicholls’s team is headed by the ante-post favourite Kauto Star, who earned rave reviews when winning by nine lengths on his British debut at Newbury on December 29, while Pipe’s best chance at present looks to be Contraband who, like last year’s winner Well Chief, is owned by David Johnson.

Recent Kempton winner Pak Jack, the Noel Chance-trained River City and Kevin Bishop’s stable star Ashley Brook are also among the domestic entries while French-based Thierry Doumen has entered last season’s AIG Europe Champion Hurdle hero Foreman and Christian von der Recke, Germany’s champion trainer, is represented by Fiepes Shuffle.

There is a formidable 17-strong Irish entry, including yesterday’s (Sunday) Baileys Arkle Chase winner at Leopardstown Ulaan Baatar.

Watson Lake, like Sir Oj trained by Noel Meade, the Paul Nolan-trained Cloone River, last season’s Letheby & Christopher Supreme Novices’ Hurdle second War Of Attrition, the Pat Fahy-trained Mariah Rollins, and the 2002 Letheby & Christopher Supreme Novices’ Hurdle heroine Like-A-Butterfly add further strength to Ireland’s entry.

There are again 17 Irish-trained entries in the longer Royal & SunAlliance Chase, run on Wednesday, March 16, with a total of 61 engaged in the Grade 1 event.

Ireland’s team are not quite so dominant in this contest with Mark The Man, trained by Noel Meade, and Forget The Past, from Michael O’Brien’s yard, among the strongest contenders from the Emerald Isle although Like-A-Butterfly and War Of Attrition have both also been given this longer option.

Ollie Magern and totesport Classic Chase winner Baron Windrush give locally-based Nigel Twiston-Davies a strong hand while Trabolgan, who was due to have run at Haydock on Saturday, represents Nicky Henderson and Martin Pipe’s five entries include David Johnson’s duo Comply Or Die and Control Man while Best Mate’s brother Cornish Rebel and the Ferdy Murphy-trained You’re a Gassman, a totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup entry, add further interest. The Francois Doumen-trained L’Ami, a recent winner at Warwick, is the sole entry from France.

Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham’s Managing Director, commented: "It is encouraging to see such strong entries for The Irish Independent Arkle Chase and Royal & SunAlliance Chase which, as well as being championship races in their own right, feature contestants for top honours in years to come. Nothing demonstrates that more than the fact that the last three Irish Independent Arkle Chase winners, Well Chief, Azertyuiop and Moscow Flyer, head the betting for this year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase."

Simon Claisse, Cheltenham’s Clerk of the Course, added: "We are delighted that the two races have attracted a combined entry that is three higher than in 2004 despite the fact that we have another option in the new Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase over 2m 5f at this year’s Festival."



There are 12 horses entered in both races - Davenport Milenium, Escompter, Euro Leader, Kadount, Kauto Star, Like-A-Butterfly, Limerick Boy, Meneur de Jeu, My Will, Newmill, Scarthy Lad and War Of Attrition.

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