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Cheltenham Novice Chase Entries 2015
Thu, Jan 22nd, 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015 - Entries are unveiled today for the three Grade One novices' chase at The Festival - the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (Champion Day, Tuesday, March 10), the RSA Chase (Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 11) and the JLT Novices' Chase (St Patrick's Thursday, March 12). In addition, entries are also announced for the longest race at The Festival, the four-mile Listed Toby Balding National Hunt Chase (Champion Day, Tuesday, March 10) for amateur riders.

Un De Sceaux (Willie Mullins) is clear favourite in the ante-post market for the two-mile £150,000 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase, for which there are 45 entries. The seven-year-old was unbeaten in bumpers and over hurdles. The front-runner fell on his chasing debut at Thurles in November when looking the certain winner. He made no mistake next time out at Fairyhouse on December 12, when successful by 12 lengths. He is due to run on Sunday, January 25, in the Grade One Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

Mullins accounts for nine entries in total, with last year's Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle victor Vautour also featuring prominently in the betting.

There are 19 Irish-trained entries in all, with Clarcam (Gordon Elliott) second favourite with most bookmakers following an impressive 17-length victory in the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. Enda Bolger may be best known for his cross country chasers but he has an exciting novice on his hands with the J P McManus-owned Gilgamboa, a facile 24-length winner of a Grade Two contest at Limerick on Boxing Day. Both are due to take on Un De Sceaux on Sunday.

Nicky Henderson is jointly the most successful ever handler in the Racing Post Arkle with five victories and his one entry is Josses Hill, runner-up in last year's Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and a winner over fences at Doncaster on January 9.

Josses Hill was beaten on his chasing debut in a Grade Two event at Ascot in December by Ptit Zig, who is one of three engaged for champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls. Ptit Zig has won on all four of his starts over fences, most recently landing the Grade Two BetBright Novices' Chase at Cheltenham on New Year's Day. Nicholls could be also be represented by Grade One Henry VIII Novices' Chase victor Vibrato Valtat and Solar Impulse.

Local Slad handler Tom George has entered God's Own. The seven-year-old won a Grade One event at Punchestown in May and then stepped out of novice company to land the Grade Two Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter in November. After a disappointing effort in the Grade One Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park in December, he stepped back to novice chasing and finished third last time out behind Vibrato Valtat in the williamhill.com Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton Park on December 27. Gods Own also holds an entry in the JLT Novices' Chase over two and a half miles, as does his stable companion Stellar Notion, who has won on his last two starts in handicaps at Leicester and Kempton Park.

George said: "God's Own has had a bit of a break since Kempton. He came good in the spring last year but has been struggling on the soft ground this season.

"We have entered him for the Arkle because he won around Punchestown over two miles, but that is a very stiff two miles. He is ultimately a three-miler and our inclination is that he will probably be stepping up in trip next time.

"We just need to get him back on track again before we start thinking about The Festival, but he has had a few blips before and bounced back.

"Stellar Notion is going to run at Cheltenham on Saturday (January 24) and that will give us a bit more of an idea where we are going with him.

"He is obviously improving and is an exciting horse. We have just been ticking along with him and everything has been geared around chasing, hence why he was lightly-raced over hurdles last season.

"I think he is ready to step it up and the way he is progressing suggests he will be ready for The Festival this year."

There are 54 entries for the £150,000 RSA Chase, which is staged over an extended three miles. At the head of the market with most bookmakers for this prestigious event are Kings Palace (David Pipe) and Don Poli (Willie Mullins).

Kings Palace, a Grade Two winner over hurdles at Cheltenham, has been successful on his two starts over fences, both of which have come at Cheltenham. His latest victory was during The International on December 12 when he proved seven lengths too strong for Sausalito Sunrise (Philip Hobbs) in the Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices' Chase.

Don Poli, one of 12 entries for Ireland's champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins, also boasts a 100 per cent record in two chases, with his most recent success being in the Grade One Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown on December 29. The six-year-old is already a winner at The Festival, having taken the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle in 2014. Mullins' entries also include Valseur Lido, triumphant in the Grade One Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse in November, and the hugely exciting mare Vroum Vroum Mag, who could not have been more impressive in winning on all of her three starts over fences including a Grade Two contest at Thurles on January 15.

Other leading contenders for the RSA Chase include Coneygree (Mark Bradstock), a half-brother to Hennessy Gold Cup winner Carruthers, who took the Grade One Feltham Novices' Chase easily at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

The Young Master (Neil Mulholland) is one of the most improved horses in training this season, having been first past the post on all four of his starts over fences, and he had little difficulty seeing off seasoned opposition when successful in a Listed handicap chase at Ascot just before Christmas.

The JLT Novices' Chase has attracted 60 entries, with the £120,000 contest taking place over two and a half miles.

Willie Mullins again has a very strong hand, accounting for 12 entries including the aforementioned Un De Sceaux, Valseur Lido and Vautour, who is the market leader with most bookmakers.

Paul Nicholls has also give Ptit Zig the option of the JLT Novices' Chase along with Irish Saint and Saphir Du Rheu, who is set to run over hurdles at Cheltenham on Saturday, Festival Trials Day, in the Grade Two Galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle.

The four-mile £85,000 Toby Balding National Hunt Chase is the longest race run at The Festival and has attracted 58 entries. Don Poli is clear favourite in the ante-post market with most bookmakers.

This year's renewal of the oldest race at The Festival commemorates the late Toby Balding OBE, who died on September 25 at the age of 78. Balding trained over 2,000 winners over Jumps and on the Flat during the course of his career and was especially at home at The Festival, where his 11 victories included two Champion Hurdles (1989 Beech Road & 1991 Morley Street) plus the Cheltenham Gold Cup (1992 Cool Ground). There were also two successes in the National Hunt Chase - Lucky Vane in 1981 and Boraceva in 1989.

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