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Family fortunes with Nick Williams double-handed in bid for repeat win

Nube Negra (Harry Skelton, right), favourite for the Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on Wednesday, jumps alongside Apple's Shakira at Cheltenham last December
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4.50 Cheltenham
Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) | 4yo | 2m87yd

Move over the Walsh and Carberry clan, there is another sibling rivalry in the saddle taking centre stage in this 'consolation' race for the JCB Triumph Hurdle. 

Lizzie Kelly had to look on half a dozen lengths behind on Diable De Sivola a year ago when her family's stable broke its Cheltenham Festival hoodoo with stablemate Flying Tiger.

This time it is brother Chester Williams who is lurking on another of her stepfather Nick's contenders, Mercenaire, as Kelly rides shorter-priced stablemate Esprit De Somoza.

"We haven't ridden much against each other since our pointing days and it's great we're going in with that first winner for the stable last year," said Kelly.

Of her ride, she added: "He was my choice a while ago – he has form that ties in with the Grade 1 juveniles this season and first time at Sandown he impressed me the way he travelled and jumped."    

Williams, called "my big little brother" by Kelly, who is four years his elder, is a graduate of the form book.

He said: "It's nice to piece up the second choice and Mercenaire was third in a Grade 1, which is up there with the best form, and he'll go on the ground. I'm taking 7lb off and he has a little chance."

What they say

Tom George, trainer of Casa Tall
He should cope with the heavy ground and has settled in well with us. We've been pleased with his work and he has some good form in France, although the handicapper has taken no chances.

Gordon Elliott, trainer of Mitchouka and Veneer Of Charm
Mitchouka's been very consistent and is in good form but, with his big weight, the ground is a bit of a concern. There might be some improvement in Veneer Of Charm but the testing ground won't be ideal.

Nicky Henderson, trainer of Style De Garde
I like him. The Huntingdon race he ran in last time was bizarre but I could see him running well.

Paul Nicholls, trainer of Act Of Valour and Grand Sancy
Act Of Valour won at Newcastle first time, that form is good, and he ran really well at Musselburgh last time. He loves soft ground. Grand Sancy has been running really well. I've always felt a fast-run race might suit him. 

Dan Skelton, trainer of Nube Negra, Embole and Solo Saxophone
I don't think there's a lot between them – it was always going to be the case Harry would ride Nube Negra so there was no last-minute choice between the three. He won't mind the ground, doesn't complain about anything and has form with Apple's Shakira. Solo Saxophone will improve for a pair of blinkers and hopefully the ground will be sloppier as he got stuck in the tacky ground at Exeter last time. Embole won very well after his wind op and you wouldn't know how much more improvement there is in him.   

David Cottin, trainer of Brave Dancing
I think he's still progressing, and he's in great shape. I think ideally it would be better ground but he proved at Pau he handles it heavy.

Alan King, trainer of Lisp
His form is solid and he could run very well. He's won in this sort of ground before, though I’m not convinced it's what he wants. 

Joe Tizzard, assistant to Colin Tizzard, trainer of Padleyourowncanoe
We don't have too many juveniles but he's been a good little chap. He'll handle the ground, which might catch quite a few of these four-year-olds out. He's handicapped on his best form but I wouldn't be surprised if he ran a good race. He gets further.

Richard Hobson, trainer of Eureu Du Boulay
He has a really good chance, I'm looking forward to running him. He might be even better come Aintree because I haven’t had him long, but his homework is very good.

Brian Ellison, trainer of The King Of May
He ran well behind We Have A Dream at Musselburgh and has improved since and is working really well. He's a really nice horse, will enjoy the ground and I'm expecting a big run.

Nigel Twiston-Davies, trainer of Turning Gold
He loves the heavy ground and did really well at Haydock so these conditions should be all right.

Gary Moore, trainer of Eragon De Chanay
He won on Saturday but there are no negatives at all with him at home, so if he continues to eat up I think he'll run. It's a big shout to run him as it was a rubbish race at Sandown but he did win very easily.

The man himself

It is 30 years ago this year that Fred Winter, after whom this race is named, saddled the last of his 28 winners as a trainer at the festival, when Celtic Shot landed the Champion Hurdle. Winter, who died in 2004, also rode 17 winners at the meeting.

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I don't think there's a lot between them - it was always going to be the case Harry would ride Nube Negra so there was no last-minute choice
E.W. Terms
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