A total of 960 entries, including 291 trained in Ireland, are unveiled today for the 10 handicaps staged at The Festival.
The £105,000 G3 Ultima Handicap Chase (2.50pm) on Champion Day, Tuesday, March 14, has attracted 102 entries including Saphir Du Rheu (Paul Nicholls) and Road To Riches (Noel Meade IRE), who also hold entries in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, plus leading Randox Health Grand National contender The Last Samuri (Kim Bailey). Three previous winners of the BetVictor Gold Cup at The Open - Caid Du Berlais (Paul Nicholls), Annacotty (Alan King) and Taquin Du Seuil (Jonjo O'Neill) have also been engaged in the three mile, one furlong contest alongside promising novice chasers Our Kaempfer (Charlie Longsdon), Singlefarmpayment (Tom George) and Champers On Ice (David Pipe).
Champion Day also features the £70,000 Listed Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase (5.30pm) over an extended two and a half miles. A total of 78 entries includes Foxtail Hill (Nigel Twiston-Davies), successful in the G3 Hugo's Restaurant Barbados Trophy Handicap Chase on Festival Trials Day, and last year's Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle runner-up Romain De Senam (Paul Nicholls).
The £95,000 G3 Coral Cup (2.50pm) over two miles and five furlongs on Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 15, is always one of the handicap highlights of The Festival and 130 entries for this year's race includes 50 Irish-trained contenders, headed by recent G2 Red Mills Trial Hurdle victor Tombstone (Gordon Elliott IRE) and last season's G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle winner Ivanovich Gorbatov (Joseph O'Brien IRE). Ballyandy (Nigel Twiston-Davies) and Movewiththetimes (Paul Nicholls), who were first and second in the G3 Betfair Hurdle, also hold entries along with progressive novice Air Horse One (Harry Fry).
G1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle scorer Mega Fortune (Gordon Elliott IRE) headlines 54 entries for the £80,000 G3 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.50pm), also on Ladies Day. Paul Nicholls has won the last two renewals of the extended two-mile handicap contest and the champion trainer has three contenders this year including impressive Wincanton winner Dreamcatching, while recent Market Rasen victor Domperignon Du Lys features among a trio of Nicky Henderson-trained entries.
St Patrick's Thursday, March 16 features three handicaps including the three-mile £95,000 Listed Pertemps Network Final (2.10pm), which has 54 entries including Tobefair (Debra Hamer), who rattled off a remarkable seventh consecutive victory when scoring at Newbury on February 11. Golden Doyen (Philip Hobbs) beat stable-companion For Good Measure by a short-head in a qualifier over the same course and distance at The Showcase in October, while Isleofhopendreams (Willie Mullins IRE) comfortably took a Punchestown qualifier on February 5.
The £105,000 G3 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (4.10pm) over two miles and five furlongs on the same day has attracted 100 entries including Caid Du Berlais, Annacotty, Taquin Du Seuil and Diamond King (Gordon Elliott IRE), who was successful in last year's Coral Cup. Course and distance winner Foxtail Hill and Baron Alco (Gary Moore), runner-up in the G1 Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown Park on February 4, have also been entered.
Last season's Pertemps Network Final winner Mall Dini (Patrick Kelly IRE) features among 101 entries for the £70,000 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase (5.30pm), also on St Patrick's Thursday.
G1 winner Arctic Fire (Willie Mullins IRE), second to Faugheen in the 2015 Stan James Champion Hurdle, heads 100 entries for the £95,000 G3 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (2.10pm) on Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 17. Ballyandy, Movewiththetimes, Air Horse One, Tombstone and Ivanonich Gorbatov could also line up in the two mile, one furlong contest along with G3 StanJames.com Greatwood Handicap Hurdle victor North Hill Harvey (Dan Skelton) and Leopardstown handicap hurdle scorer Ice Cold Soul (Noel Meade IRE).
A total of 164 entries for the £65,000 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (4.50pm) over an extended two and a half miles on Gold Cup Day features six contenders from the stable of David Pipe including French imports Magie Du Ma, Max Do Brazil and Shaama Grise. Willie Mullins has sent out Sir Des Champs, Don Poli and Killultagh Vic to glory in the race and Ireland's champion trainer has 10 entries this year headed by the long-absent Abbyssial and Thomas Hobson.
The final contest of The Festival is the £105,000 G3 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (5.30pm) on Gold Cup Day, which has attracted a record entry of 77 including the Nicky Henderson-trained trio of L'Ami Serge, Theinval and Vaniteux.