The going remains SOFT on all courses under the frost covers.
Simon Claisse, Head of Racing, South West Region & Cheltenham’s Clerk of the Course, said today at 1pm: “There are forecast to be occasional wintry showers tonight. These showers are only expected to amount to one millimetre of rain.
“We did not get any rain yesterday or overnight, and there has been none so far today.
“During The Festival itself, we are expecting the odd shower but nothing significant.
“I think The Festival should start with soft going tomorrow, but I am guessing because I won’t know until the frost covers are lifted and that process will start as late as possible tomorrow – 10am.
“The lifting of the covers on the Old Course (used for racing on Tuesday and Wednesday) has to be complete by 1.15pm but should be finished before then.
“I will then walk the course to assess the going. The lowest temperature we are forecast tonight and tomorrow morning is minus six degrees Celsius.”
SIX TO TAKE ON SPRINTER SACRE IN QUEEN MOTHER
Sprinter Sacre heads a final field of seven for the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase following the final declarations for Wednesday’s feature race.
Last year’s winner Finian’s Rainbow will not return to defend his crown but the 2011 winner Sizing Europe has been declared after trainer Henry de Bromhead opted to run his stable star in the two-mile event as opposed to Thursday’s Ryanair Chase.
The supplemented Mail De Bievre stands his ground as does Somersby who will be running at his fifth consecutive Cheltenham Festival. The field is made up of the trio of Sanctuaire, Tataniano and Wishfull Thinking,who fell in the race last year.
The final declarations for the remainder of Tuesday’s card have also come through and a total of 12 horses have been confirmed for the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, headed by current favourite My Tent Or Yours. Owner J P McManus is likely to be responsible for the first two in the market after Jezki stood his ground whilst last year’s Weatherbys Champion Bumper winner Champagne Fever has also been declared. However, the well-fancied Melodic Rendezvous misses the race after scoping badly.
A total of seven horses stand their ground in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase with Simonsig and Overturn set to do battle in one of the most eagerly-anticipated clashes of the week. The Irish-trained pair of Arvika Ligeonnaire and Baily Green have also been confirmed to run whilst the field is completed by His Excellency, Majala and the Lucinda Russell-trained Tap Night.
Quevega will face 18 rivals as she bids to emulate the great Golden Miller in winning at five consecutive Festivals. Willie Mullins’ mare has taken the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle for the past four years and bookmakers make her odds-on once again to land the spoils. Her main rivals Une Artiste (winner of last year’s Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle) and Kentford Grey Lady both line up against her whilst David Pipe has also declared Swing Bowler, a daugher of Cheltenham specialist Lady Cricket.
Enda Bolger has won four renewals of the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase and he is responsible for two of the final field of 16 in the shape of Arabella Boy (Nina Carberry) and Freneys Well (Richie McLernon). Last year’s winner Balthazar King has not been declared but the 2011 winner Sizing Australia has alongside the 2010 victor A New Story as have the Willie Mullins-trained pair of Uncle Junior (Patrick Mullins) and Shakervilz (Katie Walsh).
The biggest fields of the day unsurprisingly come in the two most competitive handicaps with a maximum field of 24 set to line-up for the JLT Specialty Chase whilst 20, also a maximum, have been declared for the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase. Quartz de Thaix heads the weights for the former with the Colin Tizzard-trained Golden Chieftain the last horse to sneak in the race at the bottom of the handicap. Last year’s runner-up Fruity O’Rooney stands his ground as does the ante-post favourite Our Mick but Cantlow is a notable absentee though Paul Webber’s gelding does hold other entries later on in the week.
Rajdhani Express carries top-weight in the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase with Tim Vaughan’s Saved By John the last horse to get a run in that particular race. Ante-post favourite Colour Squadron stands his ground as does the 2011 Coral Cup winner Carlito Brigante.
JLT Specialty Chase: Battle Group, De Boitron, Thegreatjohnbrownie, Billie Magern, Mountainous, No Secrets, Ballyoliver, Time For Spring, Pentiffic, Glenquest, Lively Baron, Prophete de Guye, Riguez Dancer, Plein Pouvoir, Bescot Springs.
Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase: Dashing George, Pentiffic, Gullible Gordon, Shalimar Fromentro, Triggerman, Victrix Gale, Midnight Haze, Paco Jack, Drawn N Drank, Northern Alliance, Doctor Pat, Clear Hills.
Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase: Kingsmere, Rouge Et Blanc, Eastlake, Yurok, Battle Group, Urgence d’Estruval, Kealigolane, Saphir River, Mountainous, Toner d’Oudairies, Ballypatrick, Nobunga, Escort’men, Sustainability, Top Smart, Bennys Mist, Arbeo, Saoirse Dun, Clouded Thoughts, Megastar, Sew On Target, Please Talk, Gores Island.
TUESDAY’S DECLARED RUNNERS
1:30pm William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (12), 2m 110yds, Grade 1
1 Cause of Causes (USA) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 7lb Davy Condon
2 Champagne Fever (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb R. Walsh
3 Cheltenian (FR) Philip Hobbs 11st 7lb Richard Johnson
4 Dodging Bullets Paul Nicholls 11st 7lb Daryl Jacob
5 Fire King (Sheepskin C/P) Daniel Steele 11st 7lb Liam Treadwell
6 Jezki (IRE) Mrs J. Harrington, Ireland 11st 7lb Robbie Power
7 My Tent Or Yours (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 7lb A. P. McCoy
8 Ostentation (Hood) Alastair Lidderdale 11st 7lb Will Kennedy
9 Pique Sous (FR) (Tongue Strap) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb Paul Townend
10 Puffin Billy (IRE) Oliver Sherwood 11st 7lb Leighton Aspell
11 River Maigue (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 7lb Barry Geraghty
12 Un Atout (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb Davy Russell
2.05pm Racing Post Arkle (7), 2m, Grade 1
1 Arvika Ligeonniere (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb R. Walsh
2 Baily Green (IRE) (Tongue Strap) M. F. Morris, Ireland 11st 7lb D. J. Casey
3 His Excellency (IRE) (Blinkers) David Pipe 11st 7lb Tom Scudamore
4 Majala (FR) (Tongue Strap) Tom George 11st 7lb Paddy Brennan
5 Overturn (IRE) Donald McCain 11st 7lb Jason Maguire
6 Simonsig Nicky Henderson 11st 7lb Barry Geraghty
7 Tap Night (USA) Lucinda Russell 11st 7lb A. P. McCoy
2:40pm JLT Specialty Handicap Chase (24 – 15 eliminations), 3m 110yds, Grade 3
1 Quartz de Thaix (FR) Venetia Williams 11st 12lb Aidan Coleman
2 Midnight Chase (Tongue Strap) Neil Mulholland 11st 11lb Dougie Costello
3 Planet of Sound (Tongue Strap) Philip Hobbs 11st 9lb Richard Johnson
4 Cloudy Too (IRE) Sue Smith 11st 5lb Wayne Hutchinson
5 The Package (Tongue Strap) David Pipe 11st 5lb Timmy Murphy
6 Hey Big Spender (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 11st 4lb Joe Tizzard
7 Our Mick Donald McCain 11st 4lb Jason Maguire
8 Nadiya de La Vega (FR) (Sheepskin C/P) Nicky Henderson 11st 3lb A. P. McCoy
9 Quantitativeeasing (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 3lb Barry Geraghty
10 Knockara Beau (IRE) (Tongue Strap) George Charlton 11st 1lb Paddy Brennan
11 Tour des Champs (FR) Nigel Twiston-Davies 10st 12lb Sam Twiston-Davies
12 Merry King (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Jonjo O’Neill 10st 12lb Richie McLernon
13 Fruity O’Rooney (Sheepskin C/P) Gary Moore 10st 12lb Jamie Moore
14 Jadanli (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Paul John Gilligan, Ireland 10st 11lb A. E. Lynch
15 Tenor Nivernais (FR) (Sheepskin C/P) Venetia Williams 10st 11lb Robert Dunne (3)
16 Pete The Feat (IRE) Charlie Longsdon 10st 10lb Noel Fehily
17 Loch Ba (IRE) Mick Channon 10st 10lb Dominic Elsworth
18 Nuts N Bolts (Tongue Strap) Lucinda Russell 10st 8lb Peter Buchanan
19 Poole Master David Pipe 10st 7lb Tom Scudamore
20 Monkerty Tunkerty Miss Jessica Westwood 10st 7lb Will Kennedy
21 Tullamore Dew (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Nick Gifford 10st 6lb Tom Cannon (3)
22 White Star Line (IRE) D. T. Hughes, Ireland 10st 5lb Bryan J. Cooper
23 Summery Justice (IRE) Venetia Williams 10st 5lb Liam Treadwell
24 Golden Chieftain (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Colin Tizzard 10st 5lb Brendan Powell (3)
Eliminated: Battle Group, De Boitron (FR), Thegreatjohnbrowne (IRE), Billie Magern, Mountainous (IRE), No Secrets (IRE), Ballyoliver, Time For Spring (IRE), Pentiffic (NZ), Glenquest (IRE), Lively Baron (IRE), Prophete de Guye (FR), Riguez Dancer, Plein Pouvoir (FR), Bescot Springs (IRE)
3:20pm Stan James Champion Hurdle (9), 2m 110yds, Grade 1
1 Balder Succes (FR) Alan King 11st 10lb Wayne Hutchinson
2 Binocular (FR) Nicky Henderson11st 10lb A. P. McCoy
3 Cinders And Ashes Donald McCain11st 10lb Jason Maguire
4 Countrywide Flame John Quinn 11st 10lb Denis O’Regan
5 Grandouet (FR) Nicky Henderson11st 10lb Barry Geraghty
6 Hurricane Fly (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland11st 10lb R. Walsh
7 Khyber Kim Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Paddy Brennan
8 Rock On Ruby (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) Harry Fry 11st 10lb Noel Fehily
9 Zarkandar (IRE) Paul Nicholls11st 10lb Daryl Jacob
4.00pm Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Steeple Chase (16 – 12 eliminations), 3m 7f
1 Uncle Junior (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 12lb Mr P. W. Mullins
2 Outlaw Pete (IRE) John Halley, Ireland 11st 2lb Mr Josh Halley (7)
3 Bostons Angel (IRE) Mrs J. Harrington, Ireland 11st 0lb Robbie Power
4 Sizing Australia (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 10st 11lb A. E. Lynch
5 Arabella Boy (IRE) Enda Bolger, Ireland 10st 9lb Miss N. Carberry
6 Passato (GER) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Jo Davis 10st 7lb Timmy Murphy
7 Saddlers Storm (IRE) A. J. Martin, Ireland 10st 6lb Paul Carberry
8 Big Shu (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Peter Maher, Ireland 10st 5lb B. M. Cash
9 A New Story (IRE) M. Hourigan, Ireland 10st 4lb A. P. Heskin (3)
10 Any Currency (IRE) (Eyeshields, Tongue Strap) Martin Keighley 10st 2lb Ian Popham (3)
11 Freneys Well (Sheepskin C/P) Enda Bolger, Ireland 10st 1lb Richie McLernon
12 Shakervilz (FR) (Sheepskin C/P) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 10st 0lb Ms K. Walsh
13 Leac An Scail (IRE) Joanne Foste r 10st 0lb Samantha Drake (7)
14 Sacree Tiepy (FR) (Tongue Strap) Emmanuel Clayeux, France 10st 0lb James Reveley
15 Wedger Pardy (IRE) (Blinkers) Kim Bailey 10st 0lb Miss J. Coward (7)
16 Double Dizzy (Tongue Strap) Bob Buckler 10st 0lb Andrew Glassonbury
Eliminated: Dashing George (IRE), Pentiffic (NZ), Gullible Gordon (IRE), Shalimar Fromentro (FR), Triggerman, Victrix Gale (IRE), Midnight Haze, Paco Jack (IRE), Drawn N Drank (IRE), Northern Alliance (IRE), Doctor Pat (IRE), Clear Hills (IRE)
4.40pm OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (19), 2m 4f, Grade 2
1 Alasi Paul Webber 11st 5lb Dominic Elsworth
2 Kauto Shiny (FR) Tom George 11st 5lb Paddy Brennan
3 Mae’s Choice (IRE) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 5lb Paul Carberry
4 Quevega (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 5lb R. Walsh
5 Shadow Eile (IRE) Mrs D. A. Love, Ireland 11st 5lb Andrew J. McNamara
6 She Ranks Me (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Donald McCain 11st 5lb Jason Maguire
7 Sirene d’Ainay (FR) (Tongue Strap) Emmanuel Clayeux, France 11st 5lb Jonathan Plouganou
8 Une Artiste (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 5lb Barry Geraghty
9 Cloudy Spirit Reg Hollinshead 11st 0lb
10 Epee Celeste (FR) Michael Chapman 11st 0lb Gerard Galligan
11 Kaffie Kim Bailey 11st 0lb Sam Twiston-Davies
12 Kentford Grey Lady Emma Lavelle 11st 0lb Noel Fehily
13 Lady Kathleen Paul Webber 11st 0lb Denis O’Regan
14 Miss Milborne Jamie Snowden 11st 0lb Harry Skelton
15 Prima Porta Evan Williams 11st 0lb Paul Moloney
16 Shop Dj (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Peter Fahey, Ireland 11st 0lb A. P. Crowe
17 Stone Light (FR) Venetia Williams 11st 0lb Aidan Coleman
18 Swincombe Flame (Tongue Strap) Nick Williams 11st 0lb Daryl Jacob
19 Swing Bowler David Pipe 11st 0lb Timmy Murphy
5.15pm Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase (20 – 23 eliminations), 2m 4f 110yds, Listed Race
1 Rajdhani Express Nicky Henderson 11st 12lb Mr S. Waley-Cohen (5)
2 Kruzhlinin (GER) Donald McCain 11st 12lb Jason Maguire
3 Colour Squadron (IRE) Philip Hobbs 11st 11lb A. P. McCoy
4 Klepht (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Thomas Mullins, Ireland 11st 11lb Paul Townend
5 Ackertac (IRE) (Blinkers) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 9lb Sam Twiston-Davies
6 Vulcanite (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Charlie Longsdon 11st 9lb Richard Johnson
7 Carlito Brigante (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 9lb Davy Russell
8 Shangani (USA) Venetia Williams 11st 9lb Aidan Coleman
9 Fourjacks Tim Easterby 11st 7lb Brian Harding
10 The Druids Nephew (IRE) Andy Turnell 11st 7lb Tom Scudamore
11 Forgotten Gold (IRE) Tom George 11st 7lb
12 Bobowen (IRE) Dr Richard Newland 11st 7lb Nick Scholfield
13 Ohio Gold (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 11st 6lb Joe Tizzard
14 Restless Harry (Blinkers) Robin Dickin 11st 6lb Henry Oliver
15 Howard’s Legacy (IRE) Venetia Williams 11st 6lb (5lb ex) Liam Treadwell
16 Johns Spirit (IRE) Jonjo O’Neill 11st 5lb Richie McLernon
17 Hazy Tom (IRE) Charlie Longsdon 11st 5lb Noel Fehily
18 Nataani (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) Jo Davis 11st 5lb Timmy Murphy
19 Arthur’s Pass Tom George 11st 5lb (5lb ex) Paddy Brennan
20 Saved By John (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Tim Vaughan 11st 4lb Michael Byrne (3)
Eliminated: Kingsmere, Rouge Et Blanc (FR), Eastlake (IRE), Yurok (IRE), Battle Group, Urgence d’Estruval (FR), Kealigolane (IRE), Saphir River (FR), Mountainous (IRE), Toner d’Oudairies (FR), Ballypatrick (IRE), Nobunaga, Escort’men (FR), Sustainability (IRE), Top Smart, Bennys Mist (IRE), Arbeo (IRE), Saoirse Dun (IRE), Clouded Thoughts (IRE), Megastar, Sew On Target (IRE)
DECLARED RUNNERS FOR WEDNESDAY’S SPORTINGBET QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE
1) Mail de Bievre (FR) Tom George 8-11-10 Paddy Brennan
2) Sanctuaire (FR) Paul Nicholls 7-11-10 Ruby Walsh
3) Sizing Europe (IRE) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11-11-10 Andrew Lynch
4) Somersby (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Mick Channon 9-11-10 Dominic Elsworth
5) Sprinter Sacre (FR) Nicky Henderson 7-11-10 Barry Geraghty
6) Tataniano (FR) Richard Rowe 9-11-10 Andrew Thornton
7) Wishfull Thinking (Tongue Strap) Philip Hobbs 10-11-10 Richard Johnson
SPRINTER’S TASK JUST GOT HARDER AS EUROPE LINES UP
Sprinter Sacre’s bid to extend his unbeaten run in Wednesday’s Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase has been made more challenging by the declaration of perennial Irish raider Sizing Europe.
The Henry De Bromhead-trained 11-year-old has been in sparkling form this season and has a fine Cheltenham Festival record, having won the Racing Post Arkle Trophy in 2010 and the Queen Mum in 2011. He was also second in the race last year.
A bid for Thursday’s Ryanair Chase over two miles and five furlongs was an option for the Sizing Europe team, but De Bromhead and owners Ann and Alan Potts have plumped for the shorter race. Yet following news of Sizing Europe’s target the race sponsors reacted by easing him from 5/1 to 11/2.
At Cheltenham this morning, after exercising his Festival runners in the centre of the course, De Bromhead said: “We made a decision late last night [Sunday]. The horses travelled over yesterday and they all seem fine.
“Sizing Europe has been out, stretched his legs and had a peck of grass and seems very happy with life. The ground is fine – soft is ideal.”
De Bromhead has also declared Sizing Australia for tomorrow’s Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase, on Wednesday he plans to run Sizing Gold in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, while on Thursday he hopes to be represented by Berties Dream in the Pertemps Final.
ACE BUYER KEEPS MULLINS’ TEAM ON THE FESTIVAL MAP
Behind every great racehorse trainer there’s a five-star scout, or in the case of trainer Willie Mullins two scouts in the shape of Harold Kirk and Pierre Boulard.
The pair act as Mullins’ eyes and ears away from the racecourse, seeking out the raw material that keeps Ireland’s champion trainer at the head of his profession, representing him at sales and bidding for horses either privately or at public auction. The results have been spectacular, as a list of Mullins’ runners at this week’s Cheltenhan Festival verify.
Arriving at Cheltenham the day before this year’s Festival kicks off, Kirk, from Lisburn in Northern Ireland, was asked to name some of this week’s runners with which he has been associated, and he said: “Sticking to the key horses they would include Hurricane Fly, Ballycasey, Pont Alexandre, Champagne Fever and Pique Sous. If we could have just the one winner I would have to ask for Hurricane Fly [in the Stan James Champion Hurdle]. He wasn’t 100% last year, so I would love to see him regain the championship and put to bed all the doubters.
“Pont Alexandre [Neptune Investment Novices' Hurdle] and Ballycasey [Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle] are very exciting, but they are prospective chasers with many big days ahead.”
On a bitterly cold morning at Cheltenham Kirk was in situ early, and said: “I’ve been a regular at the Festival for 10 years, but I’ve been working with Willie for at least 25. He’s successful because he works hard, is dedicated, calm in a crisis and he gives everyone around him confidence. He also has good staff.”
Mullins’ strike rate with bumper horses is an indication of Kirk and Boulard’s eye for talent, but it seems the best of this year’s crop may not be at the Festival for Wednesday’s Weatherbys Champion Bumper. Kirk said: “A couple of very good horses have picked up minor injuries, but I expect there will be three runners from the yard. Patrick [Mullins, Willie's son] will ride Union Dues, Andrew Lynch will be on Sizing Tennessee, and Ruby [Walsh] will be on Briar Hill. Patrick will also ride Back In Focus in the [John Oaksey] National Hunt Chase – he’s a very good horse.”
While a market remains for ‘store’ horses – unbroken youngsters who are stored at grass until ready to begin training – and breeze-up horses who are unraced but broken in and show their paces before going through a sales ring, the biggest prices are currently being paid for horses that have proved some ability with one or two runs in a point-to-point, bumper or maiden hurdle. They must also have pedigree and physical substance.
Kirk said: “Willie started off buying and making store horses, but most of the bigger owners now want a ready-made horse. There’s a snowball effect, because those horses have been successful – the more winners a trainer has the more owners they attract, the more owners they attract the more horses they train.
“Willie never rests on his laurels. He’s always planning at least a year ahead. He doesn’t panic when things go wrong, but nor does he wrap good horses in cotton wool. There’s pressure this week, but it’s good pressure.”
GROUND CONCERNS FOR ELLIOTT
Gordon Elliott, who currently lies third in the Irish National Hunt trainers’ championship, has 13 possible starters at The Festival this year with Carlito Brigante, who won here two years ago in the Grade Three Coral Cup and Cause Of Causes, a declared runner for tomorrow’s Grade One William Hill Supreme Novices Hurdle, appearing to be his two best chances.
Elliott said: “I only got in last night and I am just about to go out and walk the course. The ground would be a worry for my horses – the more it dries out the better.
“I am looking forward to this year with Carlito Brigante – he is declared for the Listed Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase tomorrow.”
Elliott had two winners at The Festival in 2011 and holds a good record at Cheltenham, with a 12% strike rate at the course overall.
The trainer continued: “My best result here would be two years ago with Carlito Brigante (Coral Cup) and Chicago Grey (who won the National Hunt Chase in 2011 and is entered in this year’s John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree).
“I am not sure about the handicaps yet, I only have Romanesco in the Kim Muir and Nina (Carberry) is going to ride him. Bonisland is entered in several but I don’t think he is going to get in, as to the others we will see later today.”
CHELTENHAM IN NUMBERS (1)
Record prize money on offer for 27 races over four days.
Estimated amount that will be wagered during the week.
Record prize money for the Stan James Champion Hurdle, the opening day’s richest prize.
Estimated gate receipts for the week
Withdrawn from cashpoints at the course in 2012
Pints of Guinness that will be drunk
Record number of original entries for this year’s Festival.
Helicopter landings at the course during the meeting
Number of races over four days
Number of Grade One contests at the meeting.
The number of winning favourites from 27 races at last year’s Festival: Quevega, Sprinter Sacre, Hunt Ball, Teaforthree, Simonsig, Riverside Theatre, Bug Buck’s, Salut Flo and Sunnyhill Boy.
The record number of Irish-trained winners, in 2011.
CHELTENHAM IN NUMBERS (2)
Number of horses to have regained the Champion Hurdle, Comedy of Errors in 1975. Binocular and Hurricane Fly will bid to emulate him tomorrow.
Number of horses to have won consecutive Champion Hurdles. Rock On Ruby will try to join them tomorrow.
Record number of winners for Nicky Henderson
Years since Nicky Henderson’s first Festival winner, See You Then in the 1985 Champion Hurdle
The number of different races Nicky Henderson has won.
Number of times Nicky Henderson has been the meeting’s leading or joint-leading trainer.
Record number of winners for Nicky Henderson last year.
Number of winners for Paul Nicholls at the Festival
Years since Paul Nicholls’ first festival winner, Flagship Uberalles in the 1999 Arkle Trophy.
The number of different races Paul Nicholls has won.
Number of times Ruby Walsh has been Cheltenham champion in 9 years
Record for a sequence of victories in a Festival race, Golden Miller in the Gold Cup from 1932-1936. Quevega will bid to match it tomorrow in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
MY TENT OR YOURS (William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle)
Was cleverly named as the result of a newspaper competition. He is by Desert Prince out of Spartan Girl.
RIVER MAIGUE (William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle)
The ‘river of the plain’ rises in the Ballyhoura Mountains in Co Cork and flows north through Croom and Adare in Co Limerick to join the Shannon estuary. Known for its trout fishing.
PIQUE SOUS (William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle)
French for ‘penny pincher’.
UN ATOUT (William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle)
French for ‘a trump’.
SIMONSIG (Racing Post Arkle Chase)
Wine estate near Stellenbosch, South Africa’s premier wine region, named for its views of the majestic Simonsberg mountains. Founded in 1964 by the Malan family, of French Hugenot origin three centuries ago.
PLANET OF SOUND (JLT Specialty Chase)
Name of a track on the album Trompe Le Monde, by the US alternative rock band The Pixies.
WHITE STAR LINE (JLT Specialty Chase)
British shipping line, grimly best remembered for its flagship Titanic, which sank in April 1912. The company merged with its chief rival Cunard in 1934.
CINDERS AND ASHES (Champion Hurdle)
Exclamation of alarm or excitement often used by Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends in the Railway Series books by the Reverend W V Awdry.
UNCLE JUNIOR (Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase)
Character in the gangster TV series The Sopranos, the dementia-suffering uncle of eponymous mob boss Tony. Played by Dominic Chianese.
FRENEYS WELL (Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase)
Captain James Freney was an 18th century highwayman from Co Kilkenny who eventually won a pardon for grassing on his criminal associates. His eponymous well is near Graignamanagh.
SIZING AUSTRALIA (Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase)
A company name, one division of his owner’s global mining empire. A sizing machine reduces ore-bearing rock to manageable pieces.
LEAC AN SCIAL (Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase)
Irish for ‘stone in the shadow’.
CARLITO BRIGANTE (Rewards4Racing Chase)
Main character in the 1993 film Carlito’s Way, about a Puerto Rican drug baron trying to reform after a spell in prison.
WHAT MAKES OVERTURN SPECIAL?
Overturn, with his versatility, durability and trademark zest for racing, has become a public favourite. He is a well-fancied second favourite to live up to his name against the odds-on shot Simonsig in tomorrow’s Racing Post Arkle Trophy. The gelding’s trainer Donald McCain, who has described him as “a magic horse”, has loved him from the first moment he saw him.
“I first saw him on the Flat at Salisbury when he beat one of my owners’ runners into second place after rallying and getting back into the lead inside the final furlong. I thought he showed the most fantastic tough attitude and I noticed soon afterwards that he was entered in Doncaster Sales. We bought him there for £75,000.
“The first two or three times we ran him he was actually disappointing after our hopes about what we thought he could do. He got beat off a mark of 95 at Doncaster and I know I was making a terrible bad job of him for whatever reason. But we tidied his wind up and changed the way we rode him and it was like somebody had flicked a switch. He became a different animal.
“He first made me proud when he won the Galway Hurdle. People said firstly, English-trained horses didn’t go over there and win big Irish handicaps and secondly, horses didn’t carry the massive top-weight he had to victory and thirdly, he couldn’t make all the running and win. And he did all three.
“Enthusiastic is the first word I’d use to describe him. Every single day he comes out of his box wanting to get on with life and his job, and he just makes you smile. The only time I’ve seen him shattered was after the Champion Hurdle last year, but he came out the next morning wanting to go again.
“At the races, he’s just glad to be there. He can’t get enough of his job. He has been on the go since he was a yearling and we keep expecting him to cry enough at some point, but he just thrives on it all.
“He has such a step to him he almost goose-steps to the gallops. He knows what he wants to do and goes out every day and does it, then spends the afternoon in one of the pens relaxing. He’s so energetic in his work he’s happy to just let himself switch off and gaze into the distance.
“After what he’d done for us on the Flat and over hurdles the thought of asking him to jump fences was quite frightening and we did quite a lot of soul-searching, almost looking for reasons not to. If he had made one mistake at home we wouldn’t have gone on with it. But the first day he schooled he did at home what he does at the track. He was just brilliant.”
Nine-year-old Overturn (born 22-4-2004) has run 40 times, ridden by 14 different jockeys, for 14 wins, 16 places and earnings of £701,170.
He is ridden and looked after at home at Bankhouse Stables in Cheshire by Steve “Rooney” Fowles.
He is the first horse to win the two top races run at Newcastle, on the Flat the
Northumberland Plate in June 2010 and over hurdles the Fighting Fifth in November 2011.
He and jockey Jason Maguire carried the Olympic torch through Chester in May last year before lighting the flame at the racecourse in front of a crowd of 25,000.
Overturn, by high-class Flat sire Barathea, was foaled in Ireland, but his family background is British. He is out of the Kris mare Kristal Bridge, bred by Peter Harris – who gave up his bloodstock interests two years ago after nearly 40 years’ involvement as owner, breeder and trainer – at Pendley Farm in Hertfordshire. Kristal Bridge is out of one of Harris’s foundation mares, Connaught Bridge, who was acquired as a three-year-old in 1979 after she had won the Yorkshire Oaks and Nassau Stakes, both now Group One contests, and before she beat Oaks runner-up Bonnie Isle at Kempton. She became dam of seven winners, including Dorothea Brooke, herself dam of the two high-class juveniles Primo Valentino (Middle Park Stakes) and Dora Carrington (Cherry Hinton Stakes).
WILLIAM HILL TO PAY OUT ON FIRST FIVE IN SUPREME NOVICES’
Despite one of the smallest fields for decades (12 runners) set to line-up in tomorrow’s William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, sponsors William Hill will still continue with their offer of 1/4 odds 1,2,3,4,5 in the opening race of the Festival.
Long-time favourite My Tent or Yours heads the betting at 15/8 favourite, ahead of Irish raider Jezki (9/2), and Paul Nicholls’ Dodging Bullets (8/1). The sponsors report good money for Champagne Fever, who has been cut to 6/1 (from 9/1) following the declarations this morning.
Kate Miller, spokeswoman for William Hill, said: ”We’re as excited for the first race as every punter in the land, so we’re happy to commit to our each-way offer of first five places and continue this through to the start of the race. William Hill punters can get a payout for almost 50% of the field in the opening race – surely there’s no better way to start Cheltenham?”
William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – sponsors bet: 15/8 My Tent Or Yours; 9/2 Jezki, 6 (from 9) Champagne Fever,Un Atout; 8 Dodging Bullets; 11 (from 14) Puffin Billy; 14 River Maigue; 20 Cheltenian, Pique Sous; 25 Cause Of Causes, 100 Fire King; 200 Ostentation
SPRINTER SACRE RED-HOT FAVOURITE WITH QUEEN MOTHER SPONSORS
Sprinter Sacre is the 2/7 favourite with Queen Mother Champion Chase sponsors Sportingbet following the final declarations for the race in which seven horses will go to post. Sizing Europe is next in the market at 11/2 with the supplemented Mail De Bievre a 14/1 shot.
“Punters have found it impossible to take on Sprinter Sacre in the ante-post market but the decision to run Sizing Europe means that he will have at least one market rival who could give him something to think about,” said Sportingbet spokesman Russ Wiseman.
Wishfull Thinking is next in the market at 22/1 and it’s 25/1 bar that quartet.
Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase – sponsors bet: 2/7 Sprinter Sacre; 11/2 Sizing Europe; 14 Mail De Bievre; 22 Wishfull Thinking; 25 Sanctuaire; 28 Somersby; 100 Tataniano.
SPONSORS EXPECT SUPPORT FOR FLY’S CHAMPION RIVALS
Hurricane Fly is currently the 2/1 favourite Stan James for tomorrow’s Champion Hurdle but the sponsors expect plenty of support for his rivals ahead of the big race.
Zarkandar is second in the market at 4/1 with last year’s winner Rock On Ruby just behind him at 9/2. Grandouet is a 15/2 shot with 2010 winner Binocular currently priced up at 9/1.
“Hurricane Fly hasn’t been hugely popular with the punters of late although the softening ground should aid his cause,” said Stan James spokesman Rory Jiwani.
“Zarkandar should relish the conditions and we expect plenty of support for Paul Nicholls’ runner at 4/1.”
Stan James Champion Hurdle – sponsors bet: 2 Hurricane Fly; 4 Zarkandar; 9/2 Rock On Ruby; 15/2 Grandouet; 9 Binocular; 14 Cinders And Ashes; 16 Countrywide Flame; 40 Khyber Kim; 66 Balder Succes.