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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

The six-day stage: who's in and out for day one of the Cheltenham Festival

Getabird: the Supreme Novices' fancy has a favourite's chance according to Walsh
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1.30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle

A race that can often throw up a superstar, and this year all eyes are on Getabird. Unbeaten under rules with two hurdle wins this season, the Willie Mullins-trained runner heads the market and 28 remaining entries. Samcro is going for the Ballymore. That is the message that continues to come out of the Gigginstown camp, although he remains entered for this race. Betfair Hurdle winner Kalashnikov leads the British challenge.

2.10 Racing Post Arkle

The news that Sceau Royal would be missing at the start of the week was a blow, but the latest clash between Footpad and Petit Mouchoir is still on. Saint Calvados carries hopes for the home team, while Invitation Only, the JLT favourite, has been scratched by Willie Mullins.

2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase

Topweight and favourite Gold Present still heads the field, but there were some notable absentees in behind in the market. De Plotting Shed has a raft of festival entries, but will not be lining up here, along with stablemate Monbeg Notorious, who is also missing from the National Hunt Chase entries. Another Gordon Elliot entry, The Storyteller is also absent.

3.30 Unibet Champion Hurdle

Elgin has been added to the field to tune of £20,000, and will face odds-on favourite Buveur D'Air. Faugheen, Min and Wicklow Brave are among the potential runners for Willie Mullins, while Apple's Jade, the mare's hurdle favourite has been left in by Gordon Elliott.

4.10 OLBG Mares' Hurdle

Vroum Vroum Mag has been taken out of a race she won in 2016, with connections revealing on Wednesday she has been retired. Willie Mullins can still call on Benie Des Dieux and Let's Dance, who are among his possibles, along with La Bague Au Roi for Warren Greatrex.

4.50 National Hunt Chase

RSA favourite Presenting Percy was also short in the market for this race, but has been taken out, along with Elegant Escape, who is heading for the RSA as well. Gordon Elliott's main contenders, Dounikos and Jury Duty, stood their ground.

5.30 Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase

He may be out of the Ultima, but De Plotting Shed is still in the Close Brothers. All the other major market leaders remain engaged, as Movewiththetimes, Any Second Now and Barney Dwan left in.

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