Cheltenham Festival News
Thursday 23rd January 2014
Festival Novice Chase Entries Revealed

Racing Post Arkle Chase (Champion Day, Tuesday, March 11)
National Hunt Chase (Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 12)
RSA Chase (Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 12)
JLT Novices’ Chase (St Patrick’s Thursday, March 13)

The entries for the four novice chases at Cheltenham 2014 have been revealed and the speculation continues, with many of the protagonists having multiple options across the various trips and conditions.

Morning Assembly
© Caroline Norris
Morning Assembly

Pat Fahy's leading Irish novice Morning Assembly is among 53 entries for the £150,000 Grade One RSA Chase over an extended three miles, the highlight for novice chasers on the second day of The Festival, Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 12.

The seven-year-old first came to prominence at last year's Punchestown Festival with a brave victory in the Grade One Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle over three miles.

Fahy's stable star has taken to chasing like a duck to water, scoring comfortably over two and a half miles at Punchestown in October before getting the better of subsequent Grade One winner Don Cossack (Gordon Elliott) in the Grade Two Florida Pearl Novice Chase at the same course on November 17.

Carlingford Lough
© Caroline Norris

Carlingford Lough

He stepped up to Grade One company for the Topaz Novice Chase over three miles at Leopardstown after Christmas, but was narrowly denied a hat-trick by Galway Plate hero Carlingford Lough (John Kiely).

Morning Assembly is also entered in the £85,000 Listed 144th Year Of The National Hunt Chase (4.40pm) over four miles for amateur riders on the opening day of The Festival, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 11.

Fahy reported: "We intend to go to Cheltenham with Morning Assembly. We have entered him in the RSA Chase and National Hunt Chase, but the preference would be for the RSA Chase. We have entered him in the other race just so we have it as an option.

"He is ticking over at the moment and has come out of his run over Christmas in fantastic form.

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"I was happy with his run at Leopardstown considering that it was a very good, very tough and very experienced horse that beat him. Carlingford Lough has won a Galway Plate and I could not have been more pleased with our horse.

"We have him entered in the Dr P J Moriarty Chase (February 9) at Leopardstown next month, but we still need to make a decision about whether or not he goes there. He is in there for experience as he will be jumping at speed over a shorter trip, but he is a very good jumper and you need to do that around Cheltenham.

"I think The Festival experience will be no problem for Morning Assembly. He is as cool as a breeze and takes everything in his stride. We thought he needed soft ground to be a Grade One horse, but he seems to go on any ground.

"He has never let us down and, if he goes to Cheltenham in the best of his health, I expect him to be in the battle."

© Caroline Norris

Also among other entries for the RSA Chase are Ballycasey, one of seven engaged by Willie Mullins, Smad Place (Alan King), who has finished third in the last two Ladbrokes World Hurdles, and Warwick scorer Corrin Wood (Donald McCain).

Last season's Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle hero Champagne Fever (Willie Mullins), who also captured the Weatherbys Champion Bumper in 2012, heads 34 entries for the two-mile Grade One £150,000 Racing Post Arkle Chase (2.05pm) on Champion Day, Tuesday, March 11. He is joined by stablemate Felix Yonger, Leopardstown Grade One scorer Defy Logic (Paul Nolan) and the Paul Nicholls-trained pair of Dodging Bullets and Hinterland. The 2012 Stan James Champion Hurdle victor Rock On Ruby (Harry Fry) is also engaged.

The £120,000 JLT Novices' Chase (1.30pm), over two and a half miles on St Patrick's Thursday, March 13, is a Grade One contest for the first time this year and has a new sponsor.

It has attracted 53 entries. Oscar Whisky is entered by Nicky Henderson following two course wins, while Wonderful Charm (Paul Nicholls), Taquin Du Seuil (Jonjo O'Neill) and French import Vukovar (Harry Fry) are other significant entries.