Fascinating Novice Contests in Prospect at The Festival
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
The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
National Hunt Chase
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
JCB Triumph Hurdle
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