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Cheltenham Festival 2015 latest: Aurore D’Estruval out of Mares’ Hurdle

Aurore D’Estruval ruled out of Mares’ Hurdle
Aurore D’Estruval, who had been 9/2 second favourite with Coral for the Mares’ Hurdle, has been ruled out of the contest after suffering a setback.

The five-year-old had emerged as Britain’s chief hope for the Grade 1 event on Tuesday, March 10th, having won two of her three starts this season.

However, trainer John Quinn revealed today that the five-year-old has suffered a setback which had caused her to miss five days of work and she would not be ready in time.

He added that it was nothing serious, and it was hoped that the mare would be back in action at Aintree or Punchestown.

Aurore D’Estruval’s defection has resulted in the Willie Mullins trained Annie Power shortening even further for the 2m 4f contest and she is now 4/7 with Coral.

McLernon confirmed to partner Gold Cup hope Holywell
Richie McLernon has been confirmed as the rider of Cheltenham specialist Holywell in the Gold Cup at next month’s Festival.

He has guided the Jono O’Neill trained gelding to success at the last two Festivals, landing the Pertemps Final in 2013 and the Baylis & Harding Handicap Chase 12 months ago.

The eight-year-old, who is 10/1 with Coral for the Gold Cup on Friday, March 13th, bounced back to form last time out at Kelso when scoring by 25 lengths in the hands of AP McCoy.

But, with McCoy having committed himself to partner the JP McManus-owned Carlingford Lough, the way has been left clear for McLernon to renew what has been a very successful partnership with Holywell.

Step up in trip the key to Balder Succes
Trainer Alan King reports Balder Succes is in “very good form” ahead of his tilt at the 2m 5f Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday, March 12, and believes he has now found the right trip for the gelding.

The seven-year-old has done most of his racing over 2m, but a step up in distance saw him clinch the Grade 1 Ascot Chase last time out in good style.

Balder Succes has so far failed to complete in two starts at the Festival, falling in the 2012 Triumph Hurdle and unseating his rider in the Champion Hurdle a year later.

King is hoping for a change of luck, and Coral make Balder Success a 6/1 chance for the Ryanair.

Salsify spearheads strong Irish challange in Foxhunter Chase
Salsify heads a strong Irish contingent among 45 entries for the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and is 10/1 with Coral to be the first horse ever to win the contest three-times.

The 10-year-old clinched the prize in 2012 and 2013 for the father-son combination of Rodger and Colman Sweeney, and although he missed a hat-trick bid 12 months ago through injury is set to return to Prestbury Park having finished fourth on his comeback run at Leopardstown earlier this month.

On The Fringe, trained by Enda Bolger, was third 12 months ago and fourth back in 2011, and is the shortest of the Irish entries in the betting at 6/1 with Coral.

The Foxhunter betting market is headed by the Warren Greatrex trained Paint The Clouds (4/1).