Cheltenham Festival 2015 news round-up
Mullins favouring Champion Chase for Champagne Fever:
Trainer Willie Mullins revealed today that he was favouring a crack at the 2m Queen Mother Champion Chase with Champagne Fever over the 2m 5f Ryanair Chase at next month’s Festival.
The grey got back on track with a smooth success in the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park at the weekend and has a superb record at the Festival.
The eight-year-old won the champion bumper and Supreme Novices’ Hurdle before finishing runner-up in last year’s Arkle, and is currently the 5/1 third favourite with Coral for the Queen Mother.
Options remain open for Conyegree:
Connections of exciting novice chaser Coneygree have given themselves further thinking time over whether to take on the esatblished chasers in the Gold Cup or go down the novices’ route for the RSA.
The eight-year-old was left in the RSA at today’s latest declaration stage, and 5/1 for that contset with Coral and 10/1 for the he Gold Cup.
The Mark Bradstock trained gelding put in an awesome display against his elders when romping to success in the Grade 2 Denman Chase at Newbury earlier this month, a performance which resulted in the BHA’s chief handicapper Phil Smith declaring him to be “better than Denman as a novice” at this stage of his career.
No Triumph for Bristol:
Bristol De Mai, a Grade 1 winner on his British debut for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies before a disappointing last time out at Sandown, was the most notable scratching from the Triumph Hurdle at today’s declaration stage.
The gelding is owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Soude who have two leading contenders for the 2m contest on Friday, March 13th, in the shape of the Nicky Henderson trained duo of Peace And Co and Top Notch.
The former is the current 9/4 favourite with Coral, and is rated 6lb an upwards clear of his rivals by Timeform. Top Notch, who is unbeaten in five starts over the obstacles, is a 12/1 chance.
Sprinter Sacre delighting Henderson:
Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson believes that former 2m champion Sprinter Sacre is “nearly there” ahead of a tilt at regaining his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown on Wednesday, March 11th.
The nine-year-old was beaten for the first time in 11 completed starts over fences on his comeback from a lengthy absence at Ascot last month when finishing runner-up to a race-fit Dodging Bullets in the Tingle Creek.
Since then the gelding dubbed the “black aeroplane” has been working in fine style at home, and Henderson says the only decision now is whether to give him a racecourse gallop or not before the Festival. At this stage he thinks “probably not” and Sprinter Sacre has been left unchanged at 5/2 with Coral for the Queen Mother.