Entries for Cheltenham Festival Novice Chases
Entries have been revealed for the four novice chases at The Festival – The Irish Independent Arkle Trophy Chase, the RSA Chase, the 141st Year of the National Hunt Chase and the Jewson Novices’ Chase.
A bumper 65 horses are engaged in the new Jewson Novices’ Chase. The Grade Two event is staged on St Patrick’s Day, Thursday, March 17, and takes place over two and a half miles.
No less than 23 of the Jewson Novices’ Chase entries are solely engaged in this race, demonstrating the new contest’s attraction to owners and trainers.
A horse with the Jewson Novices’ Chase firmly on the agenda is Loosen My Load, who is trained in Ireland by Henry de Bromhead. A Grade Two winner over hurdles at Cheltenham in November, 2009, the seven-year-old has taken well to chasing, winning his first three starts before finishing third to Ghizao in the Grade Two Independent Novices’ Chase at The Open in November. His most recent outing came at Leopardstown on December 30, when he took fourth behind Realt Dubh in the Grade One Bord na Mona With Nature Novice Chase.
The trainer revealed: “I hope that Loosen My Load will run in the Jewson Novices’ Chase at The Festival. He looked like he just lacked a gear when coming home third behind Ghizao over two miles at The Open and we think that the RSA might not be the ideal alternative for him, so the two and a half mile option looks to be best.
“It was a really good effort behind Realt Dubh at Leopardstown because he hated the heavy ground and the trip was probably inadequate. He has come out of that run brilliantly - we gave him a couple of easy days and he looks great now.
“He won a beginners’ chase over the same trip as the Jewson Novices’ Chase at Punchestown in May and he also won a non-novice contest at Listowel over two miles and three furlongs, so I am hopeful that he will get the trip round Cheltenham.”
Other entries for the Jewson Novices’ Chase include an octet from Nicky Henderson featuring Aigle D’Or, Master Of The Hall, Mr Gardner, Nadiya De La Vega, Rackham Lerouge, Radium, Surfing and Tasheba. An Irish entry of 19 includes six from the Willie Mullins stable including Quel Esprit and the mare Blazing Tempo, who has won her latest two outings in Grade Three company. Other leading contenders from across the Irish Sea include the Gordon Elliott-trained pair of Jessies Dream and Tharawaat as well as the Noel Meade-trained Realt Dubh, who has landed Grade One contests at Leopardstown on his last two starts, getting the better of Paul Nolan’s Noble Prince on each occasion.
The first three horses home from the Grade Two Tigmi Travel Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, Hell’s Bay, Medermit and Reve De Sivola, could also line up in the Jewson Novices’ Chase, while champion trainer Paul Nicholls has five to choose from including Robinson Collonges and The Minack, who created a favourable impression when defeating Bouggler on his chasing debut at Wincanton earlier this month.
The Irish Independent Arkle Trophy Chase, the two-mile championship novice chase on day one of The Festival, Centenary Day, Tuesday, March 15, has attracted an entry of 34. Trainer Nicky Henderson has won the Grade One contest on three previous occasions and has a trio to choose from in 2011 including Finian’s Rainbow, who won comfortably on his first two starts over fences at Newbury.
Another trainer with an impressive record in The Irish Independent Arkle Trophy Chase is Nicholls, who is seeking a third success in the contest. Nicholls has three entries to choose from including Ghizao, who recorded a comfortable success over the course and distance when taking the Grade Two Independent Newspaper Novices’ Chase at The Open in November.
Mikael D’Haguenet, successful in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle in 2009 but yet to score in two outings over the larger obstacles. Mikael D’Haguenet also features among the 51 entries for the championship novices’ chase over an extended three miles, the Grade One RSA Chase, which takes place on Wednesday, March 16.
Currently heading the ante-post lists for the RSA Chase is Time For Rupert, who beat all bar the mighty Big Buck’s in last season’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle and has won his two starts over fences this season, both of which have come at Cheltenham. Time For Rupert is set to contest the Grade Two Argento Chase at Cheltenham this Saturday, Festival Trials Day.
There are a total of 23 Irish-trained entries in the RSA Chase who, in addition to Mikael D’Haguenet, include Grade One Drinmore Novices’ Chase scorer Jessies Dream and Grade One Fort Leney Novices’ Chase winner Bostons Angel.
Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 16, kicks off with the longest race of The Festival, the four-mile National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup, for which there are 76 entries. Jonjo O’Neill boasts a fabulous record on this race with five previous winners and the trainer is responsible for four entries this time around, while there are 27 Irish-trained entries, including the Gordon Elliott-trained Chicago Grey who has been well-backed in recent days.
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