Foxhunter, Cross Country and Champion Bumper entries revealed for 2016 Festival
David Metcalf | March 2, 2016
The final pieces of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival jigsaw have fallen into place with the unveiling of the entries for the four remaining races at the meeting.
These listed below are the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, the new Dawn Run Novices’ Hurdle for mares and the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase.
Course specialist King bids for third success in Cross Country Chase
The £60k Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase on Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 16th, is run as a conditions race for the first time at The Festival, having previously been a handicap.
A total 25 entries for the unique contest over 3m 6f include the Philip Hobbs trained Balthazar King (13/2 with Coral), who was successful in 2012 and 2014.
Irish trainers have been responsible for nine of the 11 winners of the race and 15 Irish-trained entries for this year’s race include Josies Orders (9/4 favourite), who has taken both of the Cross Country Chases at Cheltenham so far this season, and recent Irish Gold Cup fourth Foxrock (6/1).
Kate spearheads Mullins assault on Champion Bumper
Ladies Day also features the £70k Grade 1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper, which has attracted 32 entries. This championship contest has been dominated by Irish-trained horses as well, with Irish handlers having sent out 17 of the 23 winners.
Champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins has engaged 10 horses as he bids for a ninth victory in the race, including Navan Listed bumper scorer Augusta Kate (8/1), while champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien may aim for his first Festival win in 16 years with Aspen Colorado (12/1).
The home challenge looks set to be headed by the Sue Gardner trained Coeur Blimey (8/1) and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Ballyandy (8/1), who were first and second in a Listed bumper at Ascot in December.
Limini tops 36 entries for new Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
The inaugural £75k Grade 2 Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (also known as the Dawn Run Novices’ Hurdle) is the final race on St Patrick’s Thursday, March 17th, and 36 entries for the 2m 1f contest include Limini (even-money favourite), who easily won a Grade 3 mares’ novices’ hurdle at Fairyhouse in January on debut for trainer Willie Mullins.
Richard and Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes, who own the sponsor Trull House Stud, may be represented by the Nicky Henderson-trained pair of Chocca Wocca (14/1) and Robins Reef (16/1), plus Dusky Legend, from the stable of Alan King.
On The Fringe hoping to outfox rivals for a second time
On The Fringe (2/1 favourite with Coral) was a decisive winner of the £40k St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase at The Festival in 2015 and the Enda Bolger-trained 11-year-old heads 41 contenders for this year’s race, which takes place on Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 18th.
Paint The Clouds (7/1), who was third last season, went on to finish fourth in the Grade 3 Handicap Chase at Sandown Park and warmed up for this year’s race with an easy victory at Doncaster on February 24th.
Other entries include the Irish pair of Marito (7/1) and Aupcharlie (7/1), who fought out the finish to a point-to-point at Oldtown on February 7th, plus Pacha Du Polder (33/1), the intended mount of cycling convert Victoria Pendleton.
Coral’s Cheltenham section contains all the latest news, previews and tips, so it’s well worth a visit with the Festival soon upon us.