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Cheltenham Festival 2008 

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Superb Novice Events In Prospect
20/02/08

The Festival’s six Grade One novice events all promise to be races to savour following the February 19 forfeit stage, details of which are revealed today.
There are 94 contenders going forward in the Festival’s traditional curtain-raiser, the Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, six more than at the same stage last year, including the quintet currently vying for favouritism in the extended two-mile contest – Captain Cee Bee, Cork All Star, Muirhead, Numide and Rippling Ring.

Tidal Bay
© racing-images.co.uk

Tidal Bay

The novice chase highlight on the opening day, Tuesday, March 11, is The Irish Independent Arkle Trophy over two miles, which has 38 challengers remaining (compared to 25 at this stage in 2007) including the Paul Nicholls-trained Noland, winner of the 2006 Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and successful on his sole chase start at Folkestone while Tidal Bay (and his recent Haydock conqueror Leslingtaylor) still has this race as an option along with the Royal & SunAlliance Chase.

Day two of The Festival, Wednesday, March 12, gets under way with the Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs where a bumper 107 contenders go forward (compared to 92 at this stage last year) including the Nicky Henderson-trained Aigle D’Or, who is unbeaten in two starts, most recently in the Grade Two Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day, January 26. Forpadydeplasterer, so impressive when scoring in Grade One company at Leopardstown on February 10, heads the 41 remaining entries from Ireland.

Also taking place on day two of The Festival is the championship event for the staying novice chasers, the Royal & SunAlliance Chase. The 46 horses left in the extended three-mile contest include Air Force One, currently just shading favouritism and out to provide trainer Charlie Mann with a first Festival success, while Grade One scorer Silverburn could bid to follow in the footsteps of his full-brother Denman who was so impressive when taking this event in 2007.

The final day of The Festival, Friday, March 14, begins with the JCB Triumph Hurdle which has 75 entries going forward including the hot favourite Franchoek, while in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over three miles, which will be run as a Grade One contest for the first time in March, the 77 acceptors include Gone To Lunch, who ran so well when third to Inglis Drever and Blazing Bailey in the Grade Two Byrne Group Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day.

GLENCOVE MARINA/WILLIE MULLINS-TRAINED ENTRIES
Please note that while Glencove Marina is listed as still being engaged in both The Irish Independent Arkle Trophy and the Royal & SunAlliance Chase – the gelding WILL NOT run.

Due to an administrative error at his County Carlow stables, all of Willie Mullins’ horses were left in the Grade One novice events at the February 19 forfeit stage – including those he intended to take out.

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