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Entries Revealed for Handicaps at The Festival
26/02/10

The countdown to The Festival intensifies today with the publication of entries for the 11 handicaps. Always among the most fiercely-contested races at The Festival, the entries for these contests are always eagerly anticipated by the betting public.

Niche Market (left)
© racing-images.co.uk

Niche Market

Day one of The Festival, Tuesday, March 16, features the £80,000 William Hill Trophy Handicap Chase, for which there are 88 entries including previous Festival scorers Our Vic and Character Building as well as Niche Market and Mon Mome, winners of the English and Irish Grand Nationals in 2009.

Tuesday also features the £45,000 Glenfarclas Handicap Chase, which has gone to an Irish-trained contender in all of its previous five runnings. Of the 30 entries this year, 13 are trained in Ireland including Garde Champetre, who hails from the yard of cross-country specialist Enda Bolger and is seeking his third consecutive success in the contest and his sixth in total over the unique course.

Wednesday, March 17, features the hugely-competitive £75,000 Coral Cup and a total of 123 entries have been received for the two mile, five furlong handicap hurdle. Among the entries is Grade One winner Jumbo Rio, one of 28 entries hailing from Ireland, while there are 13 entries from the Nicky Henderson yard in one of the few races at The Festival to have eluded the master of Seven Barrows. Day two of The Festival also features the £75,000 Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle for which there are 60 entries.

On day three of The Festival, there are four competitive handicaps – the £80,000 Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase (90 entries), the £75,000 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle (85 entries), the £80,000 Byrne Group Plate Handicap Chase (81 entries) and one of the two races exclusively for amateurs over the four days, the £55,000 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase (101 entries).

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has won the £75,000 Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle, one of three handicaps on Friday, March 19, for three of the past six years and has four of the 109 entries this season, while David Pipe accounts for eight of the 179 entries in the race named after his father, the £50,000 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. The Festival comes to a close with the £80,000 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase. Trainer Nicky Henderson accounts for eight of the 58 entries in the race named in honour of his late father including French Opera, a winner twice at Cheltenham earlier in the season.

Weights for the 11 handicaps at The Festival will be revealed at The Countdown, staged at Cheltenham Racecourse on Wednesday, March 3.

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