The declarations were made on Sunday for the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival and ten will go to post for tomorrow’s feature the Champion Hurdle including Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’Air who is looking for a third straight win in the race. The holder is 9/4 joint favourite with BetVictor alongside Apples Jade with Laurina 7/2.
Henderson walked the course on Sunday and reported a decision would be made on the participation of Santini in Wednesday’s RSA Chase at the 48-hour declaration stage this morning. Santini is 11/4 with BetVictor (NRNB) with Delta Work 7/4 market leader for Gordon Elliot who is 5/4 to be top trainer at the Festival from Henderson 7/4 and Willie Mullins 3/1.
Red Force One (2.10) won three times on the level for Tom Dascombe and made a promising debut over timber when fourth in the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle at Kempton last month. The juvenile is owned in partnership by Sir Alex Ferguson and he must go close in the opening Lengthen The Odds at BetVictor Hurdle. Irish raider Lever Du Soleil is penalised 6lbs for his Galway success back in November, but he wasn’t as good as the selection on the level although he is with a very shrewd yard.
Don Des Fosses (2.40) was a winning pointer in Ireland and won a Bumper on debut for Warren Greatrex, but he had been a big disappointment over jumps prior to finishing runner up at Sedgefield on his second start over fences but his first in a visor and tongue-tie. He is taken to build on that effort although he has been raised 3lbs for that effort. A market move for chase debutant Blairs Cove would be worth noting and he has won first time out in the past.
In the first division of the Bumper Cavernous (4.40) is fitted for a hood for his second start for Ben Pauling – the best part of 500-days after he made a modest debut when his odds of 6/4 suggested more was expected of this half-brother to Willoughby Court. The market will provide valuable clues as to the expectations of Big G on debut for the Skeltons.
In the opener at Taunton I am surprised to see that Urtheonethatiwant (2.30) is only 3lbs higher than when scoring at Kempton over 2m 5f on his latest start. Sandy Boy held every chance when coming down two out at Warwick last time and he looks a big danger in this 14-runner handicap for which BetVictor are paying each way 4 places.
I am going to give Scaramanga (3.00) another chance in the Maiden Hurdle for Paul Nicholls. With Harry Cobden at Stratford to ride Red Force One, Sam Twiston-Davies takes over in the saddle on this juvenile who was beaten just a neck over C&D here last month.
Rolling Dylan (4.00) was pulled out of the Kim Muir at the five-day stage and takes his chance off top-weight in the three-and-a-half-mile handicap chase for Philip Hobbs. This represents a drop in Grade for the 8-y-old who may have most to fear from the hat-trick seeking Achille who is 8lbs higher than when scoring at Sandown last time.
Micheal Nolan rides Rolling Dylan but Richard Johnson takes the mount on Smarty Wild (4.30) who can race off the same mark as when scoring by 11l at Exeter last week in a conditional jockey’s event. He looks well ahead of the handicapper although Silver Quay is better than he showed at Fontwell last time.
Aidan Coleman may have hit the front too soon on Shintori (5.05) at Plumpton last time and Nick Schofield is back in the saddle having ridden the gelding to success back at Plumpton previously. He can race off the same mark as last time but does need to be played late.