No surprises as stars stand ground for championship novice events
There were no major surprises among the latest acceptors for the championship novice chases and hurdles at next month’s Cheltenham Festival, which were revealed on Wednesday.
As expected, Yanworth has been taken out of the RSA Chase and JLT Chase as he will be aimed at the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle.
The Gordon Elliott-trained Samcro, who will be considered one of the Cheltenham bankers by many punters after his three impressive wins this season, remains in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but is being targeted at the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle instead.
Getabird, 15-8 favourite with the sponsor, heads 53 confirmations for the Supreme, while the exciting Footpad is among 13 acceptors for the Racing Post Arkle.
Willie Mullins holds five Arkle entries – Asthuria, Footpad, Invitation Only, Kemboy and Montalbano – which is the same number as the entire British challenge for the Grade 1, headed by Alan King’s Sceau Royal.
Nicky Henderson’s Apple’s Shakira, who is unbeaten in three starts at Cheltenham, heads 36 acceptors for the JCB Triumph Hurdle, and will bid to become the first filly since Snow Drop 18 years ago to lift the juvenile feature.
Santini and Black Op, who finished first and second in the Ballymore Classic Novices’ Hurdle on festival trials' day last month, are among 63 acceptors for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
Fifty-three stayers remain for the four-mile National Hunt Chase, 23 of whom are Irish-trained, including the Andrea and Graham Wylie-owned Invitation Only and his Mullins stablemate Al Boum Photo.
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