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Cheltenham Festival 2015 news round-up

| 17.02.2015

Champion chaser Sire De Grugy on course for Chepstow:
Last season’s Queen Mother Champion chase hero Sire De Grugy delighted trainer Gary Moore in a workout this morning and if coming through a schooling session on Thursday will have his final prep run ahead of the defence of his crown at at Chepstow this weekend.

The nine-year-old unseated regular rider Jamie Moore three from home on his recent comeback run from injury in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury, and is currently a 6/1 chance with Coral for the Queen Mother on Wednesday, March 11th.

Moore said he was “very satisfied” with Sire De Grugy’s lastest gallop, and was a definite runner in the £25,000 Rifles Handicap Chase over an extended 2m at the Welsh venue on Saturday if coming through a schooling session in two days time.

Top Notch given Adonis entry:
Top Notch could make a swift reappearance in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton following his facile success at Haydock on Saturday.

The exciting French import is now unbeaten in five runs over hurdles, and made it three-out-of-three since joining trainer Nicky Henderson when cruising home by nine lengths at the Merseyside venue.

The four-year-old, who is currently 12/1 with Coral for the Triumph, has come out of the race so well that Henderson has decided to give him an entry in Saturday’s Grade 2 contest at the Sunbury-on-Thames venue.

The race has proved a key Cheltenham trial, with three winners in the last 10 years going on to secure victory in the Triumph.

Smullen to ride Vigil in Champion Bumper:
Seven-times Irish flat jockey champion Pat Smullen is to team up with Vigil for his boss Dermot Weld in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham.
The six-year-old was fifth under Smullen to stablemate Silver Concorde 12 months ago and has had one run since, when winning at Leopardstown in December by a length from the highly-regarded Willie Mullins’ inmate Bellshill.

Smullen came closest to a landing at Cheltenham winner when third on Rite Of Passage in the 2009 renewal behind the stunning winner Dunguib.
Coral make Vigil a 12/1 chance to provide him with his first success at the Festival in the 2m contest on Wednesday, March 11th.

Hobb’s set to rely on Wishful Thinking in Ryanair Chase:
Trainer Philip Hobb’s has revealed that Wishful Thinking is likely be the stable’s representative in the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next month, with stable companion Menorah set to bypass the Grade 1 contest in favour of Aintree.

Both horses are owned by Grahame and Diana Whateley, and Menorah (16/1) is currently shorter in the betting for the 2m 5f contest with Coral than Wisfull Thinking (25/1).
Hobbs believes that Menorah has not performed at his best over fences around Prestbury Park and is keen on saving the 10-year-old for the Grand National meeting a month later.
However, the Minehead handler has stressed that the current plan is not set in.

Premier League Tips
Hertha to beat Hoffenheim
Schalke to beat Dortmund
Dusseldorf to win at Paderborn


David Metcalf

A lifelong Manchester United supporter, David has over 25 years’ experience in the media industry having worked for regional and national newspapers. He is a huge horse racing, football and greyhound fan and has done interviews on various radio and TV stations, including talkSPORT and Sky Sports, whilst working as a PR front man for a betting firm. David has also written for most of the top Premier League football fan websites, and produced a Cheltenham Festival guide with former eight-times champion national hunt jockey Peter Scudamore, MBE, after helping him to set up a syndicate for his trainer son Michael.