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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Talking points: key revelations from the day one festival declarations

Apple's Jade, a leading fancy for the Mares' Hurdle, leads the Gordon Elliott string at Cheltenham
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Dance to take shot at Stayers'

Let's Dance, who was around a 7-1 chance for the OLBG Mares' Hurdle, has not been declared and will instead run in Thursday's Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle, for which she was a general 25-1 chance on Sunday.

In her absence owner Rich Ricci relies upon Benie Des Dieux, who has raced exclusively over fences since arriving from Ireland and has been unbeaten in that sphere. The field of nine, by the way, is the smallest since the race was inaugurated in 2008.

Samcro for Ballymore

It might not come as huge surprise that Samcro is not declared for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, but it will certainly come as a relief to anyone who got stuck into the novice hurdling sensation of the season in Wednesday's Ballymore Novices' Hurdle before the ubiquitous non-runner no-bet terms were introduced.

In his absence Getabird is set to go off an even hotter favourite, especially with owner Rich Ricci indicating that while the likely testing conditions will be no problem for Getabird they will not be ideal for Sharjah.

Yorkhill back over hurdles

Last year's JLT Novices' Chase winner Yorkhill is the intriguing one among 13 in the Unibet Champion Hurdle, a move which effectively rules the enigmatic character out of Thursday's Ryanair Chase. It will be his first start over hurdles since 2016, when he was beaten at Punchestown after winning at Cheltenham and Aintree.

Yorkhill: looks set to contest the Unibet Champion Hurdle

Taking him on is stablemate and 2015 Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen, ruling out the lingering possibility that he might run in the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle. The cheekpieces are an interesting addition.

Dounikos bound for RSA

The 16 declarations for the National Hunt Chase do not include Dounikos, who was vying for favouritism with Jury Duty in many lists, so we can assume that he runs instead in Wednesday's RSA Chase, for which he was still a general 10-1 on Sunday.

Slimline Arkle 

A field of just five for the Racing Post Arkle Chase is the smallest this century. The four six-day acceptors who were not confirmed on Sunday include North Hill Harvey, who is instead likely to feature in a maximum field for Friday's Grand Annual Handicap.

Absentee Kemboy has alternative engagements in the RSA and JLT while Asthuria, who was not declared for Tuesday's Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase either, looks bound for the JLT. 

On the move

The absence of Movewithetimes from a maximum field of 20 for the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase increases the likelihood that we will see him in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate instead.

Movewiththetimes: due to contest the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate

Mister Whitaker has scraped in at the bottom of Tuesday's closing handicap which is likely to rule out a tilt at Thursday's Plate, for which he was as short as 14-1.

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In her absence owner Rich Ricci relies upon Benie Des Dieux, who has raced exclusively over fences since arriving from Ireland
E.W. Terms
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