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Fascinating Novice Contests in Prospect at The Festival
18/02/09

The Festival is set for some fascinating novice events in 2009 following the first scratchings deadline, details of which are revealed today.

Always a thrilling curtain-raiser to The Festival, a total of 68 contenders go forward in the Grade One williamhill.com Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the opening contest on Tuesday, March 10. Timeform are unable to split the Willie Mullins-trained pair of Cousin Vinny and Mikael D’Haguenet in the two-mile event, with both on 153p, 6lb clear of their closest rival. Successful in the 2008 Weatherbys Champion Bumper, Cousin Vinny unseated his regular partner Mr Patrick Mullins at the last when looking the likely winner of the Grade One Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown last Sunday while Mikael D’Haguenet has won all his four starts in impressive fashion this season.

The same duo also head the Timeform ratings for the 77 acceptors in the Grade One Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on Wednesday, March 11, with the pair 1lb clear of Pandorama, who benefited from the fall of Cousin Vinny when taking the Deloitte Novice Hurdle while Diamond Harry, twice triumphant at Cheltenham this season and aiming to give Nick Williams a first Festival success, is on 147P.

In the Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle, run on Friday, March 13, there are 58 acceptors with the Alan King-trained Walkon considered the most likely winner by Timeform with a rating of 146. Zaynar, trained by Nicky Henderson, is on 143p followed on 140p by Starluck, who is unbeaten in three starts and aiming to give trainer Alan Fleming the perfect start to his fledgling career.

Also run on Friday, March 13, is the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over three miles for which there are 70 acceptors. This contest is another option for Mikael D’Haguenet, who jointly shares the top Timeform rating of 153p with the Paul Nicholls-trained Pride Of Dulcote. Pandorama and Diamond Harry also still have the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle as an option.

Carruthers is owned by one of Jump racing’s greatest supporters, Lord Oaksey, and he would be a hugely popular winner of the Grade One RSA Chase on Wednesday, March 11, for which he is one of 51 acceptors. Timeform rate Carruthers, triumphant in the Grade One Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot last Saturday, as the best horse in the contest at this stage with a rating of 152p, followed by Cooldine, another trained by Willie Mullins and a Grade One winner on Sunday at Leopardstown, on 151p, and Forpadydeplasterer, runner-up behind Cooldine at Leopardstown, on 149.

Cooldine and Forpadydeplasterer also feature among the 38 acceptors for the Grade One The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase on Tuesday, March 10, with Timeform giving top billing to the Paul Nicholls-trained I’msingingtheblues, who saw off more-seasoned rivals when successful in the williamhill.com Handicap Chase at Doncaster last month, on 154.

The champion trainer also has the top-rated horse with Timeform in the National Hunt Chase on Wednesday, March 11, with last month’s Sky Bet Chase victor Big Fella Thanks on 147+. He is one of 68 acceptors in the four-mile contest.

TIMEFORM – TOP RATINGS BY RACE

williamhill.com Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
COUSIN VINNY (IRE) 153p
MIKAEL D'HAGUENET (FR) 153p
HURRICANE FLY (IRE) 147p
MAD MAX (IRE) 145p
KARABAK (FR) 144p
MEDERMIT (FR) 140
RONALDO DES MOTTES (FR) 139p
MICHEAL FLIPS (IRE) 138p
MASTER OF ARTS (USA) 137P
LEO'S LUCKY STAR (USA) 136
MR THRILLER (FR) 135p
DOOR BOY (IRE) 135

The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase
I'MSINGINGTHEBLUES (IRE) 154
COOLDINE (IRE) 151p
FORPADYDEPLASTERER (IRE) 149
CALGARY BAY (IRE) 148p
JAYO (FR) 148
FOLLOW THE PLAN (IRE) 148
PANJO BERE (FR) 146p
TATENEN (FR) 145+
GOLDEN SILVER (FR) 145
PLANET OF SOUND 143p
MADE IN TAIPAN (IRE) 143

RSA Chase
CARRUTHERS 152p
COOLDINE (IRE) 151p
FORPADYDEPLASTERER (IRE) 149
MASSINI'S MAGUIRE (IRE) 147+
TRAFFORD LAD 147
SHINING GALE (IRE) 146p
CASEY JONES (IRE) 146
WHAT A FRIEND 145p
KICKS FOR FREE (IRE) 145
BUCK THE LEGEND (IRE) 143
BALLYFITZ 143

Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
COUSIN VINNY (IRE) 153p
MIKAEL D'HAGUENET (FR) 153p
PANDORAMA (IRE) 152
DIAMOND HARRY 147P
HURRICANE FLY (IRE) 147p
CAPE TRIBULATION 147p
BENSALEM (IRE) 146p
MAD MAX (IRE) 145p
KARABAK (FR) 144p
ZAYNAR (FR) 143p

National Hunt Chase
BIG FELLA THANKS 147+
CASEY JONES (IRE) 146
CAN'T BUY TIME (IRE) 142
RARE BOB (IRE) 140
GONE TO LUNCH (IRE) 139p
SIEGEMASTER (IRE) 136
MERCHENT PADDY (IRE) 136
OULART 135§
COE (IRE) 134+
KORNATI KID 134+
NICHE MARKET (IRE) 133

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
PRIDE OF DULCOTE (FR) 153p
MIKAEL D'HAGUENET (FR) 153p
PANDORAMA (IRE) 152
ALPHA RIDGE (IRE) 151
DIAMOND HARRY 147P
CAPE TRIBULATION 147p
BENSALEM (IRE) 146p
ON RAGLAN ROAD (IRE) 138+
INCHIDALY ROCK (IRE) 138
JUNIOR 137

JCB Triumph Hurdle
WALKON (FR) 146
ZAYNAR (FR) 143p
STARLUCK (IRE) 140p
REVE DE SIVOLA (FR) 138
RONALDO DES MOTTES (FR) 137p
MASTER OF ARTS (USA) 135P
SILK DRUM (IRE) 134p
PEPITE DE SOLEIL (FR) 134
GIORGIO QUERCUS (FR) 134
MR THRILLER (FR) 133p
NINE STORIES (IRE) 133

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