Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - With less than two weeks until the start of The Festival™ presented by Magners, the final pieces of the jigsaw fall into place today, Wednesday, February 27, 2019, as the entries are revealed for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, the G1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper, the G2 Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle and the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase.
Tiger Roll (Gordon Elliott IRE) captured the £65,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase in 2018, joining a select group of horses to win three different races at The Festival, and last year's Randox Health Grand National winner heads 28 entries for the three and three-quarter mile contest on Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 13.
Elliott, seeking a hat-trick in the race having saddled Cause Of Causes to glory in 2017, has also entered Don Poli, winner of the G1 RSA Insurance Novices' Chase at The Festival in 2015, and last season's Randox Health Grand National third Bless The Wings.
A strong Irish-trained contingent also includes the Enda Bolger-trained duo of Auvergnat, winner of the valuable Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown in December, and Josies Orders, who has scored four times over Cheltenham's Cross Country course, including when being awarded the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at The Festival in 2016. Bolger has saddled the winner of the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase a record five times.
Both French-trained entries have run well on their previous visits to Cheltenham. Urgent De Gregaine (Emmanuel Clayeux FR) was runner-up to Tiger Roll at The Festival last year, while Amazing Comedy (David Cottin FR) finished a close fourth in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at The International in December.
The home challenge could rely on Tea For Two (Jane Williams), a dual G1 winner over fences, Ultragold (Colin Tizzard), who has won the last two renewals of the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences at Aintree, and Fact Of The Matter (Jamie Snowden), successful in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at The International.
Irish-trained horses have accounted for 19 of the 26 winners of the £75,000 G1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper and another powerful team from across the Irish Sea looks assured, with Irish handlers responsible for 12 of the 28 contenders for this year's race, which also takes place on Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 13.
Blue Sari (Willie Mullins IRE) stormed to an impressive victory on his only start at Gowran Park on January 24 and the J P McManus-owned son of Saddex could aim to become the fourth four-year-old to triumph following Rhythm Section (1993), Dato Star (1995) and Cue Card (2010). Mullins is bidding for a remarkable 10th success in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
Envoi Allen (Gordon Elliott IRE), owned by Cheveley Park Stud, maintained his unbeaten record under rules when beating Meticulous (Joseph O'Brien IRE) in a G2 bumper at Leopardstown on February 2, a race in which stable companion Abacadabras ran out when travelling strongly.
Leading British hopes include Get In The Queue (Harry Fry), a 16-length winner at Exeter on February 22, and Master Debonair (Colin Tizzard), who scored at Cheltenham earlier in the season in the Listed High Sheriff Of Gloucestershire And Racing Remember Bumper at The November Meeting.
Willie Mullins has won all three runnings of the £90,000 G2 Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle and Ireland's champion Jump trainer is responsible for 13 of the 40 entries for the extended two-mile contest on St Patrick's Thursday, March 14, including G1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle second Sancta Simona.
Unbeaten G3 winner Honeysuckle and Punchestown Listed scorer Sinoria could both line up for Henry de Bromhead, while Posh Trish (Paul Nicholls), twice successful at Listed level this season, and Epatante (Nicky Henderson), an impressive winner at Exeter on February 22, feature among the British-trained contenders.
Pacha Du Polder has won the last two renewals of the £45,000 St James's Place Foxhunter Chase and the Paul Nicholls-trained 12-year-old could bid for an unprecedented third victory in the race on Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 15.
The 35 entries also feature lightly-raced seven-year-old Stand Up And Fight (Enda Bolger IRE), prolific point-to-point winner Hazel Hill (Philip Rowley), Road To Rome (Joseph O'Shea), who has won all four of his hunter chase starts so far this season, and high-class chaser Ucello Conti (Gordon Elliott IRE).
Cheltenham Racecourse is situated in Prestbury on the northern outskirts of the historic spa town of Cheltenham. The Home of Jump Racing, Cheltenham Racecourse is the venue for the world's pre-eminent Jump meeting. The Festival™ presented by Magners, which happens in March over four days every year, next takes place from Tuesday, March 12, to Friday, March 15, 2019 inclusive and tickets are on sale. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Cotswolds, Cheltenham Racecourse is a stunning natural arena and offers the highest-quality action throughout the Jump season.
About The Jockey Club
Cheltenham is part of The Jockey Club which stages thrilling sporting occasions including The Randox Health Grand National, The Festival™ presented by Magners and The Investec Derby. Millions of people every year enjoy the special experiences The Jockey Club offers through racing, music, food and entertainment. Governed by Royal Charter, every penny made goes back into British Racing to help the sport thrive. The Jockey Club was founded in 1750 and today is the largest commercial group in Britain's second-biggest spectator sport, operating 15 racecourses nationwide, The National Stud, Jockey Club Estates, Jockey Club Catering, Jockey Club Live and the charity, Racing Welfare. For more information, visit www.thejockeyclub.co.uk
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