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Entries Revealed for Festival Handicaps
25/02/11

The countdown to The Festival steps up another gear with the publication of entries for the 11 handicaps, all of which promise to be ultra-competitive affairs once again.

L’Ami
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L’Ami

Four days of fantastic racing action gets underway with Centenary Day, Tuesday, March 15, which features three handicap chases. The £75,000 Grade Three Stewart Family Spinal Research Handicap Chase has attracted a quality entry of 85 including the Alan King-trained trio of Bensalem, Blazing Bailey and Bakbenscher, as well as current John Smith’s Grand National favourite and last season’s Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup winner Ballabriggs.

Irish trainers have won every running of the £40,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase since the contest was introduced at the 2005 Festival and 15 of the 33 entries in this year’s race are trained in Ireland, including last year’s winner A New Story and a five-strong entry from cross country specialist Enda Bolger that includes Garde Champetre, L’Ami and King Johns Castle. Philip Hobbs has entered Fair Along and Dream Alliance. Tuesday’s card also features the Listed £50,000 Centenary Novices’ Handciap Chase, which has attracted 73 entries.

Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 16, includes one of the most fiendishly competitive handicaps of the week, the £70,000 Grade Three Coral Cup, and a bumper entry of 134 is headed by the progressive Aegean Dawn, who is unbeaten in four starts for Nicky Henderson. The master of Seven Barrows also trains A Media Luz, the current ante-post favourite for the £60,000 Grade Three Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, for which 52 four-year-olds have been entered.

A trio of handicaps on St Patrick’s Day, Thursday, March 17, includes the £70,000 Listed Pertemps Final, which has attracted a record entry of 95 including the Willie Mullins-trained Sivota, while Fistral Beach, from the stable of Paul Nicholls, is among 81 entries for the £75,000 Grade Three Byrne Group Plate. The £50,000 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup has also been very well supported this year with the Ferdy Murphy-trained Galant Nuit among the 107-strong entry.

Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 18, features the £70,000 Grade Three Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle and an entry of 111 is headed by recent totesport Trophy Hurdle winner Recession Proof, while David Pipe is responsible for seven of the 164 entries in the race named after his father, the £45,000 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. Nicky Henderson also looks set to hold a strong hand as he bids to triumph in the contest named in his father’s honour, the £75,000 Grade Three Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase, with his eight entries including Tanks For That and French Opera.

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