Thursday focus: one trainer, one jockey, one horse and one race to watch
Stuart Edmunds has two chances of doubling his festival score as he saddles Theclockisticking in the Pertemps Network Final (2.10) and Queenohearts in the National Hunt Breeders Supported By Tattersalls Mares' Novices' Hurdle (4.50).
Edmunds, who trains near Milton Keynes, won the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir two years ago with Domesday Book. He suffered an early blow this season when his star mare Maria's Benefit was injured but in Queenohearts, who warmed up with a Grade 2 win at Sandown last month, he has another contender for the mares' novice hurdle in which Maria's Benefit was fourth to Laurina last year.
Theclockisticking reverts to hurdling after two runs over fences since qualifying for the Pertemps final at the track when fourth to The Mighty Don last October.
Could it be the turn of Gina Andrews to maintain winning family tradition at the festival as she bids for a second win in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup for amateur riders?
Last year her younger sister Bridget won the County Hurdle on Mohaayed, but it was Gina who got on the honours' board first with her shock success on 40-1 chance Domesday Book in this handicap chase the year before.
Andrews rides the Dan Skelton-trained Captain Chaos, who threatens to go off the shortest priced of her rides in the 3m2f race as she has twice finished fifth on 33-1 chances – Actinpieces last year and Amigo in 2016.
Paisley Park is the new kid on the block in the staying hurdle division and Faugheen is the old hand who has been there and done it at the Cheltenham Festival.
The 11-year-old would raise the roof if he could turn the clock back one last time and who would begrudge his owner RichRicci something to smile about after seeing his banker Benie Des Dieux crash out with the Mares' Hurdle at her mercy.
Who can forget Faugheen bursting on to the scene with his win in what is now the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle five years ago before he followed up when odds-on favourite in the 2015 Champion Hurdle.
It is easy to overlook he won his first ten races under rules before injury struck in the run-up to his defence in 2016 as he was a shadow of his former self in finishing sixth in the Champion Hurdle last year.
The JLT Novices' Chase (1.30) which opens day three has been a veritable Irish benefit but this year could be different if the bookmakers have the Grade 1 right.
Taquin Du Seuil is the sole winner not to have come from Ireland in the race's eight-year history.
The 2017 Triumph Hurdle winner Defi Du Seuil, who sidestepped the Arkle for this, is favourite to give JP McManus and trainer Philip Hobbs a first win in the race.
Willie Mullins, who has won the race four times, is responsible for three of the ten runners including Voix Du Reve, who is bidding to give owners Andrea and Graham Wylie a third winner in four years after Yorkhill (2017) and Black Hercules (2016).
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