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Seven trainers taking aim at the festival with only one runner

Philip Dempsey: the man behind Albert Bartlett dark horse Derrinross
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Much of the pre-festival hype revolves around Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott-trained horses, and rightly so, but there is serious strength in depth to the Irish challenge at Cheltenham this year. From last year's Gold Cup third Anibale Fly to Albert Bartlett dark horse Derrinross, here are seven horses who represent their trainers' sole chance of getting on the score sheet next week.

Anibale Fly: has unfinished business in the Gold Cup

Anibale Fly
Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup

Trainer Tony Martin 
We’re happy away with him and he’s come out of Gowran well – he seems to have improved from that run. He ran a cracker to finish third in the race last year and he’s entitled to take his chance again. We’d like to see the ground come up on the soft side.

Articulum: will be stepping up in trip

Articulum
Racing Post Arkle

Trainer Terence O’Brien The race doesn’t look too hot, so I imagine it will be a big enough field as every fella will be fancying his chance. There were only five runners in it last year but that won’t be the case this year.

I’m very happy with our lad. David Mullins gave him a school at Clonmel last week and he was aboard when we worked him at the Curragh as well. He’ll ride him at Cheltenham and he seems happy with the horse.

I don’t think he’s too ground dependent but, if it came up soft, he’d handle it well. He goes on anything bar extremes. It would have been nice to get a run into him between Naas and Cheltenham, but we are where we are and we have to make do.

All things considered, I’m very happy. He has to improve seven or eight pounds, maybe even ten, but I’m hoping he can. You have to dream.

Coney Island: schooled well after racing at Leopardstown on Monday

Coney Island
Ryanair Chase

Trainer Eddie Harty He went well when he schooled after racing at Leopardstown on Monday and I'm happy with him. He just schooled five fences down the back and it all went well. He's a different horse to last year. It's amazing that a month ago last year he was second favourite for the Gold Cup and now he's a 33-1 chance for the Ryanair.

Derrinross: out for the season

Derrinross
Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle

Trainer Philip Dempsey I think they're forecast rain next week and we hope it lashes down! The only reason why we haven't seen him recently is because of the ground.

We paid right up to declaration stage for the Grade 1 at Leopardstown [at the Dublin Racing Festival] with the hope the heavens opened but it never happened. I wouldn't risk him on unsuitable ground because he's a horse who's had his problems.

His form is working out well. He's tough, an out-and-out galloper and we're hoping for the best.

John McConnell: could have a very big team heading for Cheltenham this week if the weather plays ball

Hannon 
JCB Triumph Hurdle

Trainer John McConnell We’re thinking of going to the Triumph Hurdle with Hannon but we may wait for Aintree with Go Another One as that’s what Robbie Power advised us to do.

It was between the Fred Winter or the Triumph for Hannon, but we’re thinking the latter might not be as much of a cavalry charge and that might suit us that bit better as he doesn’t have a whole pile of experience.

He was probably unlucky not to win at Naas and, while Sir Erec will be hard to beat, we’re looking forward to running him.

The Big Dog: is being geared towards running in the Albert Bartlett by Peter Fahey

The Big Dog
Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle

Trainer Peter Fahey He'll go for the Albert Bartlett as long as the ground is soft. We made the mistake by running him on quicker than ideal ground at Leopardstown the last day but, fingers crossed, he handles the softer ground and he stays well so hopefully they get a bit of rain over there. The Albert Bartlett should suit him well.

Mouse Morris: keen on the chances of Sams Profile

Sams Profile
Ballymore Novices' Hurdle

Trainer Mouse Morris He'll be left in all three novice hurdles and we'll have a look, but the Ballymore is the race we're favouring. His form has been good and he deserves to take his chance. Bryan Cooper rides and we're hoping for dig in the ground


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It's amazing that a month ago last year he was second favourite for the Gold Cup and now he's a 33-1 chance for the Ryanair
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