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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Caution reigns with star runners handed multiple options

Vroum Vroum Mag (right) will take on Apple's Jade (left) and Limini at Cheltenham
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Plenty of trainers are covering their backs in case of a last-minute change of plan as the confirmations for the third day of the Cheltenham Festival were unveiled on Friday.

The New One, Vroum Vroum Mag, Yanworth and Apple's Jade all remain engaged in the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle on Thursday despite having alternative festival options. Favourite Unowhatimeanharry heads 21 horses left in the race.

The same cautious approach applies to the Ryanair Chase with Vroum Vroum Mag, Douvan and Fox Norton still engaged among the 18 acceptors.

Explaining the decision to leave Champion Hurdle-bound The New One in the Stayers' Hurdle, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: "I have left The New One in the Stayers' Hurdle in case he falls at the first in the Champion. Sam is confirmed to ride him and he definitely goes for the Champion Hurdle."

The Stan James Champion Hurdle may also be the final destination for Vroum Vroum Mag, but she remains the horse with the most Cheltenham options.

She still holds entries in the Champion Hurdle, OLBG Mares' Hurdle, Betway Champion Chase, Stayers' Hurdle and Ryanair Chase. She is also still a Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup contender and there can be few horses in training thought to be as versatile as she is.

Vroum Vroum Mag's stablemate Un De Sceaux heads the betting for the Ryanair Chase, and his co-owner Colm O'Connell told At The Races on Friday: "He's got an impeccable record and he has to be going there with a good chance. He's settling better and that is going to help him get the trip

"We found out a lot more about him in the Clarence House last time. He had a difficult week as he had to travel over, come back and go over again and he still put up an incredible performance." 

The prospect of taking on Yorkhill has not scared off owner Barry Connell, who has added Balbir Du Mathan to the Grade 1 JLT Novices' Chase. Horses trained in Ireland dominate the entries for this contest with 12 of the 19 confirmations.

Might Bite and Whisper, who are both prominent in the RSA betting, were among those withdrawn from the JLT.

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I have left The New One in the Stayers' Hurdle in case he falls at the first in the Champion
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