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Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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King Pair the Ones to Beat in 2011 William Hill Trophy at Festival
10/02/11

The William Hill Trophy is one of the most popular betting races of the entire Cheltenham Festival and is often one of the most exciting. Who can forget the ride that champion jockey, Tony McCoy gave Wichita Lineman a couple of years ago, when he almost put the horse on his own back to get him to the line to win by a neck from Maljimar.

Bensalem
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Bensalem

The race itself is often viewed as a trial for the Aintree Grand National but it has not produced many winners, in fact it has not produced any winners who have won this race then gone on to Aintree in the same year and won there too. However both Rough Quest in 1995 and West Tip in 1985 both won this race and took the honours in the Grand National the following year. Charter Party, trained by David Nicholson won this race in 1986 then went on to take the Blue Riband at the Festival by winning the Gold Cup in 1988.

Nonetheless there will be several in the field this year who will go on to Aintree in April to try their luck, but any that do will know that they have already been in a mighty race already by competing in this. The race itself is run over 3 miles and 110 yards on the Old Course at Cheltenham with 19 fences to jump, there is usually a big field of runners.

Blazing Bailey
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Blazing Bailey
Antepost favourites for the 2011 renewal are the Alan King trained pair of Bensalem at 10/1 and Blazing Bailey at 12/1. Bensalem is a very interesting horse, who almost died last summer of pneumonia and has been competing over hurdles this season so far. He was looking every bit the winner of this race last year but fell two from home, he subsequently went on to the Punchestown Festival in April where he finished a very creditable second behind Quevega in the Grade One World Series Stayers Hurdle. This season has seen him run just once in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle a couple of weeks ago where he ran well and finished fifth behind World Hurdle second favourite, Grands Crus. King will give him one run over the bigger obstacles before Cheltenham.

Blazing Bailey who won the Ladbrokes World series Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival over 3 miles in 2008 has put up some excellent performances over the years in both graded and handicap company. He comes into the William Hill Chase on the back of two wins in his last two starts including an 11 length success over this course on New Year’s Day in the Raceodds Handicap Chase. King believes that ‘Bailey’ might be sent to Ayr for the Scottish Grand National after Cheltenham.

Chief Dan George
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Chief Dan George
Chief Dan George winner last year after a titanic battle with The Package is a likely starter again this time and has been given a quote of 20/1 to win. He has had just the one run since this race last year which came in the Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock which he finished last of seven and a mile behind winner, Imperial Commander.

The David Pipe trained Great Endeavour has been an impressive member of the stable over the last two to three years, winning five times in eleven starts over both hurdles and fences, including his 2010 Festival win in the Grade 3 Byrne Group Plate over two miles and five furlongs, where he had a very good field behind him, including Jonjo O’Neill’s, Sunnyhillboy. This year he finished a somewhat disappointing sixth in the Grade Three, BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November and then he was second in a cracking finish behind Poquelin in the Grade 3 Vote AP Gold Cup again at Cheltenham in December, a run which strongly suggested that he needs a three mile trip to be at his best. He is currently a 16/1 shot for the William Hill Chase.

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