CLAISSE CAN'T WAIT
Cheltenham's clerk of the course Simon Claisse "can't wait" for The Festival 2017 to start tomorrow.
He said: "We had a good day yesterday [Sunday] with visits from Nicky Henderson, Alan King, Jonjo O'Neill and Ben Pauling, all very happy with and complimentary about the track, and agreeing with the going description of Good to Soft on the chase and hurdle courses, Old and New, and good to soft, Good in places on the cross country course.
"We had a little bit of rain last night just as it was getting dark, but nothing overnight, so the going description remains as above with a glorious outlook for the week - warm and sunny.
"There may be a bit of rain around on Friday but that's a long way off."
Claisse added: "We're in good shape. I can't recall the place looking quite as 'forward' as it does at the moment - you can tell in the town, the daffodils are out. Preparations have gone very well and I can't wait for the meeting to start."
He said that he had enjoyed the sight of the horses already stabled at Cheltenham ahead of the meeting exercising on the course this morning.
"It was nice to see 60-70 horses out this morning - Noel Meade's string, Gordon Elliott's, Willie Mullins', among others."
Nina Carberry keen about On The Fringe
A host of Irish-trained horses exercised at Cheltenham Racecourse this morning as Prestbury Park gears up for another superb four days of Jump racing at The Festival 2017.
Trainers including Gordon Elliott, Willie Mullins and Noel Meade oversaw the final preparations of their Festival strings before the racing gets underway tomorrow, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 14.
Nina Carberry, one of the finest jockeys of her generation, misses The Festival this year due to being pregnant with her first child, but the leading amateur rider provided a positive update on Enda Bolger's hopes for The Festival this year
Carberry was particularly confident that the J P McManus-owned On The Fringe, winner of the last two renewals of the St James's Palace Foxhunter Chase (Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 17, 4.10pm) could claim a record third success in the extended three mile and two furlong event.
The rider partnered the son of Exit To Nowhere to both those victories and Carberry issued a positive update on the horse's welfare ahead of this year's contest, commenting: "On The Fringe definitely has a big chance in the Foxhunters. The horse that beat him last time out [Foxrock] is not running as he has not qualified so I can't see why he can't do the treble to be honest.
"I think he will like a bit of better ground - there doesn't look like there is going to be much rain during the week. He is in great form and Enda is very happy with him. He showed he retains his old ability the last day and I can't see why he can't win this race for the third time."
When asked whether at the age of 12, Bolger's charge was still capable of winning the Foxhunters, Carberry added: "I think his age is no problem at all and he rates as the one to beat."
Carberry also suggested that Cantlow, similarly owned by McManus, had leading claims in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (Ladies' Day, Wednesday, March 15, 4.10pm). A three-length second to Urgent De Gregaine over the course and distance in a handicap on Festival Trials Day in January, Carberry said the Kayf Tara gelding would appreciate the better ground forecast for the Festival.
She remarked: "Cantlow will definitely improve from his last run. He had to give a lot of weight away the last day but on better ground I think he is a completely different horse. He loves that top of the ground surface but I think he just gets caught out a little on heavy ground. I don't think it is going to be that way this time around so I'd hope he would run a big race.
"He didn't get it all his own way at Cheltenham the last day when he was carried wide and was giving plenty of weight away so he definitely is the one to beat."
Cause Of Causes, a winner at The Festival for the last two years also runs in the Cross Country for trainer Gordon Elliott. However, Carberry has reservations about the horse's chances in the extended three mile and six furlong contest, following a well-beaten fifth over course and distance in January.
Carberry continued: "They brought him back to school over these sort of fences again as he didn't really take to it the first day so I would be a bit slightly wary of him but I think Cantlow is pretty solid to be honest on better ground."
She added: "I would think On The Fringe has a great chance and looks one of the stand-out horses of the week."
Cromwell bullish Jer can be leading lady in OLBG Mares' Hurdle tomorrow
Gavin Cromwell saddles his first Cheltenham Festival runners this week in the shape of OLBG Mares' Hurdle (Champion Day, Tuesday, March 14, 4.10pm) fancy Jer's Girl and Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 15, 4.50pm) hope Prospectus.
Jer's Girl, a dual Grade One winner in Ireland last season, finished last of five behind Petit Mouchoir in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown in December, but Cromwell is confident of a bold showing from the five-year-old in tomorrow's two and a half mile Grade One event.
The County Meath handler said: "I'm very happy with her and she has been going well at home. She is fit and, if you take her last run out, you have to put her in the frame.
"I think she'll definitely be there with Limini and Vroum Vroum Mag anyway.
"The ground will be fine for her - it will pose no problem."
Jer's Girl, a winner of four hurdles last season, is owned by J P McManus and ridden by Mark Walsh.
Cromwell also saddles four-year-old gelding Prospectus, successful in two of his three starts over hurdles. He was a length and a quarter winner last time out at Fairyhouse on January 25.
Commenting on his charge, the trainer said: "I would rather that the ground was a bit softer for him but I think he has an each-way chance."
Asked about the thrill of training your first Cheltenham Festival runners, Cromwell replied: "I've really enjoyed the preparation coming into The Festival, it's been great.
"Getting them here in one piece has been the big job so we're now ready and we will see how it goes."
Willie Mullins also exercised his battalion of horses and commented on the heavyweight clash between his star mares Limini (Ruby Walsh) and Vroum Vroum Mag (Paul Townend), both owned by Susannah Ricci, in tomorrow's OLBG Mares' Hurdle.
Ireland's champion Jump trainer declared: "I wasn't tempted by going for the Champion Hurdle with Vroum Vroum Mag and we'll see what happens in the Mares' Hurdle."
DECLARED RUNNERS FOR CHAMPION DAY -
TUESDAY, MARCH 14
1.30pm Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle Race (Grade 1) (14 runners)
1 Ballyandy Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 7lb Sam Twiston-Davies
2 Beyond Conceit (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 7lb Noel Fehily
3 Bunk Off Early (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb P. Townend
4 Capital Force (IRE) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 7lb Davy Russell
5 Cilaos Emery (FR) (Hood) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb David Mullins
6 Crack Mome (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb Daniel Mullins
7 Elgin Alan King 11st 7lb Wayne Hutchinson
8 Glaring Amanda Perrett 11st 7lb Leighton Aspell
9 High Bridge Ben Pauling 11st 7lb Mr Alex Ferguson
10 Labaik (FR) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 7lb Jack Kennedy
11 Magna Cartor John Joseph Hanlon, Ireland 11st 7lb Rachael Blackmore
12 Melon W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb R. Walsh
13 Pingshou (IRE) Colin Tizzard 11st 7lb Aidan Coleman
14 River Wylde (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 7lb Nico de Boinville
2.10pm Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase (Grade 1) (9 runners)
1 A Hare Breath (IRE) Ben Pauling 11st 4lb Richard Johnson
2 Altior (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 4lb Nico de Boinville
3 Charbel (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Kim Bailey 11st 4lb David Bass
4 Cloudy Dream (IRE) Malcolm Jefferson 11st 4lb Brian Hughes
5 Forest Bihan (FR) Brian Ellison 11st 4lb Aidan Coleman
6 Ordinary World (IRE) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 4lb Davy Russell
7 Royal Caviar (IRE) (Hood) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 4lb R. Walsh
8 Some Plan (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 4lb David Mullins
9 Three Stars (IRE) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 4lb Robbie Power
2.50pm Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (24 runners)
1 Un Temps Pour Tout (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) David Pipe 11st 12lb Tom Scudamore
2 Noble Endeavor (IRE) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 11lb Davy Russell
3 Theatre Guide (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Paddy Brennan
4 Clarcam (FR) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb B. J. Cooper
5 Viconte du Noyer (FR) Colin Tizzard 11st 8lb Harry Cobden
6 Annacotty (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Alan King 11st 8lb Ian Popham
7 The Young Master (Sheepskin C/P) Neil Mulholland 11st 7lb Mr S. Waley-Cohen (3)
8 Label des Obeaux (FR) Alan King 11st 5lb Wayne Hutchinson
9 Holywell (IRE) (Blinkers) Jonjo O'Neill 11st 5lb Richie McLernon
10 Junction Fourteen (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Emma Lavelle 11st 5lb Leighton Aspell
11 The Druids Nephew (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Neil Mulholland 11st 3lb Noel Fehily
12 Ibis du Rheu (FR) (Hood, Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 3lb Sam Twiston-Davies
13 Measureofmydreams (IRE) Noel Meade, Ireland 11st 3lb Sean Flanagan
14 Buywise (IRE) Evan Williams 11st 2lb Adam Wedge
15 Coologue (IRE) Charlie Longsdon 11st 1lb Brian Hughes
16 Caid du Berlais (FR) (Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 0lb Stan Sheppard (5)
17 Henri Parry Morgan (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Peter Bowen 10st 13lb Sean Bowen
18 Singlefarmpayment (Hood) Tom George 10st 13lb A. P. Heskin
19 Pilgrims Bay (IRE) (Hood, Sheepskin C/P) Neil Mulholland 10st 9lb James Best
20 Go Conquer (IRE) Jonjo O'Neill 10st 8lb Aidan Coleman
21 Antony (FR) Gary Moore 10st 5lb Jamie Moore
22 A Good Skin (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Tom George 10st 5lb Richard Johnson
23 Vintage Clouds (IRE) Sue Smith 10st 5lb Sean Quinlan
24 Vic de Touzaine (FR) Venetia Williams 10st 5lb Liam Treadwell
Eliminations Katachenko (IRE), Ballycross, Ericht (IRE), Kilronan High (IRE), Georges Conn (IRE), Killala Quay, Federici, Top Wood (FR), Buddy Bolero (IRE), Mister Spingsprong (IRE)
3.30pm Stan James Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) (12 runners)
1 Brain Power (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb David Mullins
2 Buveur d'Air (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Noel Fehily
3 Ch'tibello (FR) (Tongue Strap) Dan Skelton 11st 10lb Harry Skelton
4 Cyrus Darius Malcolm Jefferson 11st 10lb Brian Hughes
5 Footpad (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb R. Walsh
6 Moon Racer (IRE) David Pipe 11st 10lb Tom Scudamore
7 My Tent Or Yours (IRE) (Hood) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Aidan Coleman
8 Petit Mouchoir (FR) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 10lb B. J. Cooper
9 Sceau Ro
yal (FR) Alan King 11st 10lb Daryl Jacob
10 The New One (IRE) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 10lb Sam Twiston-Davies
11 Wicklow Brave W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb P. Townend
12 Yanworth (Sheepskin C/P) Alan King 11st 10lb Mark Walsh
4.10pm OLBG Mares' Hurdle Race (Grade 1) (18 runners)
1 Apple's Jade (FR) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 5lb B. J. Cooper
2 Bon Chic (IRE) James Moffatt 11st 5lb Henry Brooke
3 Briery Queen (Hood) Noel Williams 11st 5lb Richard Johnson
4 Colin's Sister Fergal O'Brien 11st 5lb Paddy Brennan
5 Debdebdeb Dan Skelton 11st 5lb Harry Skelton
6 Hidden Identity (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Tim Vaughan 11st 5lb Alan Johns
7 Indian Stream (Tongue Strap) Neil Mulholland 11st 5lb Noel Fehily
8 Jer's Girl (IRE) Gavin Cromwell, Ireland 11st 5lb Mark Walsh
9 Lifeboat Mona (Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 5lb Sam Twiston-Davies
10 Limini (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 5lb R. Walsh
11 Midnight Jazz Ben Case 11st 5lb Daryl Jacob
12 Midnight Tour Alan King 11st 5lb Tom Cannon
13 Miss Crick Alan King 11st 5lb Wayne Hutchinson
14 Pass The Time (Sheepskin C/P) Neil Mulholland 11st 5lb Tom Scudamore
15 Rock On The Moor (IRE) Mrs J. Harrington, Ireland 11st 5lb Robbie Power
16 Rons Dream Peter Bowen 11st 5lb Sean Bowen
17 The Organist (IRE) Oliver Sherwood 11st 5lb Leighton Aspell
18 Vroum Vroum Mag (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 5lb P. Townend
4.50pm J T McNamara National Hunt Chase (Grade 2) (18 runners)
1 A Genie In Abottle (IRE) Noel Meade, Ireland 11st 6lb Mr J. J. Codd
2 Arbre de Vie (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 6lb Ms K. Walsh
3 Arpege d'Alene (FR) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 6lb Mr W. Biddick
4 Ballycross Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 6lb Mr H. F. Nugent
5 Bells 'n' Banjos (IRE) Fergal O'Brien 11st 6lb Miss A. E. Stirling
6 Beware The Bear (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 6lb Mr S. Waley-Cohen
7 Bigbadjohn (IRE) Rebecca Curtis 11st 6lb Mr Barry O'Neill
8 Champers On Ice (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) David Pipe 11st 6lb Mr R. P. Quinlan
9 Dancing Shadow (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Victor Dartnall 11st 6lb Mr Sean Houlihan
10 Edwulf (Tongue Strap) Joseph Patrick O'Brien, Ireland 11st 6lb Mr Derek O'Connor
11 Flintham (Sheepskin C/P) Mark Bradstock 11st 6lb Mr M. Legg
12 Haymount (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 6lb Mr P. W. Mullins
13 Kerrow (IRE) Alan King 11st 6lb Mr Joshua Newman
14 Martello Tower (IRE) (Blinkers) Ms Margaret Mullins, Ireland 11st 6lb Mr Steven Clements
15 Missed Approach (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Warren Greatrex 11st 6lb Mr N. McParlan
16 Tiger Roll (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 6lb Ms L. O'Neill
17 What A Moment (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) David Pipe 11st 6lb Mr R. O. Harding
18 Calett Mad (FR) (Tongue Strap) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 4lb Mr Z. Baker
5.30pm Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase (Listed Race) (20)
1 Zamdy Man Venetia Williams 11st 12lb Aidan Coleman
2 Last Goodbye (IRE) Miss Elizabeth Doyle, Ireland 11st 10lb Sean Flanagan
3 Double W's (IRE) Malcolm Jefferson 11st 10lb Brian Hughes
4 Mixboy (FR) Keith Dalgleish 11st 10lb Brian Harding
5 Foxtail Hill (IRE) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 10lb William Twiston-Davies
6 Hammersly Lake (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb David Mullins
7 Captain Redbeard (IRE) Stuart Coltherd 11st 9lb Sam Coltherd (5)
8 Templehills (IRE) (Hood) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 9lb Dave Crosse
9 Bun Doran (IRE) Tom George 11st 9lb A. P. Heskin
10 Killiney Court (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 9lb M. P. Fogarty
11 Its'afreebee (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Dan Skelton 11st 9lb Harry Skelton
12 Powersbomb (IRE) (Hood) Brian McMahon, Ireland 11st 8lb Mr J. J. Codd
13 Tully East (IRE) Alan Fleming, Ireland 11st 8lb Denis O'Regan
14 Relentless Dreamer (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Rebecca Curtis 11st 8lb P. Townend
15 Deans Road (IRE) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 8lb A. E. Lynch
16 Gold Present (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 7lb Jeremiah McGrath
17 Two Taffs (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Dan Skelton 11st 7lb Davy Russell
18 Sizing Tennessee (IRE) (Blinkers) Colin Tizzard 11st 7lb Tom O'Brien
19 All Hell Let Loose (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 7lb B. J. Cooper
20 Burtons Well (IRE) Venetia Williams 11st 7lb Charlie Deutsch (3)
Eliminations: Romain de Senam (FR), Drumlee Sunset (IRE), Pinkie Brown (FR), Brother Tedd, Rock Gone (IRE), Aqua Dude (IRE), Crosspark, Champagne At Tara, Mick Thonic (FR), Squouateur (FR), Mad Jack Mytton (IRE), Mercian Prince (IRE), Holly Bush Henry (IRE), Pearl Swan (FR), Cepage (FR), Max Ward (IRE), Solstice Star, Poker School (IRE), Lake Takapuna (IRE), Wadswick Court (IRE), Monbeg Gold (IRE), Un Prophete (FR), I'dliketheoption (IRE), A Little Magic (IRE), Icing On The Cake (IRE), Kilcarry Bridge (IRE), Goohar (IRE), Easy Street (IRE)
3:30pm £365,760 BETWAY QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE
(Grade 1) 2m
1 Douvan (FR) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Ruby Walsh
2 Fox Norton (FR) (Hood) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Aidan Coleman
3 Garde La Victoire (FR) Philip Hobbs 11st 10lb Richard Johnson
4 God's Own (IRE) Tom George 11st 10lb Adrian Heskin
5 Simply Ned (IRE) Nicky Richards 11st 10lb Brian Harding
6 Sir Valentino (FR) (Tongue Strap) Tom George 11st 10lb Paddy Brennan
7 Sizing Granite (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Tom O'Brien
8 Special Tiara Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 10lb Noel Fehily
9 Top Gamble (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Kerry Lee 11st 10lb Davy Russell
10 Traffic Fluide (FR) Gary Moore 11st 10lb Joshua Moore