The seven horses for whom Cheltenham Festival targets remain unclear | Horse Racing News

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Sir Gerhard (left) and Dysart Dynamo: Cheltenham Festival targets are still up in the air

By Sam Hendry

With less than a week to go until the start of the Cheltenham Festival, the targets for some of the week’s star names remain up in the air with many trainers deliberating over multiple options. Here we run down some of the main names who still have more than one festival entry and identify when we are we likely to know which way connections have decided to go.


Cheltenham Festival: big race entries and betting


What are the options? Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1.30 Tuesday) or Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (1.30 Wednesday)

When will we know? It is possible that Sir Gerhard will have one festival option removed at Wednesday’s confirmation stage, but it is more likely punters will have to wait until 10am Sunday morning – when final declarations are made for Tuesday’s racing – before trainer Willie Mullins decides upon last year’s Champion Bumper winner’s definitive target.

Ireland’s champion trainer could step Sir Gerhard up in trip to 2m5f for the Ballymore or may stick to the shorter Supreme trip, although much may depend on where Mullins opts to send a stablemate Dysart Dynamo, with the pair both among the favorites for each race.

What they say: Willie Mullins, trainer: “He could go in either race – you could toss a coin for whichever race he goes in, because that’s the sort of ability I hope he has.”

Odds: 2-1 (Supreme), 11-10 (Ballymore)


What are the options? Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1.30 Tuesday) or Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (1.30 Wednesday)

When will we know? Like Sir Gehrard, a decision will almost certainly not be made on Dysart Dynamo’s target until declaration time on Sunday morning with all options still on the table. Mullins could decide to separate the pair with one going to the Ballymore and one in the Supreme, or he could opt to run both in the same contest.

Unlike Sir Gerhard, Dysart Dynamo has won over further than two miles (a 2m2½f bumper last year), although his Supreme prep came when routing his rivals in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer in January, a race won by a succession of Mullins-trained Supreme candidates in the last decade.

What they say: Willie Mullins, trainer: “He was very free the last day in front but Paul [Townend] said to me on more than one occasion that when he settles behind a horse he’s fine.”

Odds: 11-4 (Supreme), 2-1 (Ballymore)

What are the options? Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (2.10 Wednesday) or Turners Novices’ Chase (1.30 Thursday)

When will we know? A Grade 1 winner over three miles as a novice hurdler, it was almost considered a given that Galopin Des Champs would tackle three miles in the Brown Advisory at this year’s festival, only for his trainer Willie Mullins to throw a curveball when stating the Turners was his likelier target during a recent media morning at his Closetton yard.

That opened the door for a potentially seismic clash with Bob Olinger in the opening race on Thursday but, knowing Mullins, it is likely the button will only be pushed when making declarations for the Brown Advisory at 10am on Monday morning.

What they say: Willie Mullins, trainer: “Galopin did it very well at Leopardstown and I can’t see him going up to three miles. It’s not a decision yet, but at the moment I’d be favouring going for the shorter race. He could go in either and I want to have a chat with Paul, but I’d be happy enough to go in the Turners.”

Odds: 4-5 (Brown Advisory), 11-10 (Turners)


What are the options? Champion Chase (3.30 Wednesday) or Ryanair Chase (2.50 Thursday)

When will we know? Once the brightest prospect in training, Envoi Allen is now in danger of being lost in the shuffle. When sent off favorite for the Turners Novices’ Chase last year, it appeared very unlikely he would be dropping in trip the following year to take in a Champion Chase, but that seems the most probable option with owners Cheveley Park no doubt keen to avoid a clash with their Ryanair favorite Allaho in the longer contest.

Confirmations for the Champion Chase and Ryanair are on Thursday and Friday respectively, but he could be left in both until declarations for the Champion Chase are made at 10am on Monday.

What they say: Henry de Bromhead, trainer: “I’d say we’re leaning towards the Champion Chase without having set anything in stone. We’ll discuss it nearer the time, but we’re happy that he’s in great form. think I’d be concerned about him over two miles.”

Odds: 20-1 (Champion Chase), 12-1 (Ryanair)


Mark Cranham

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L'Homme Presse: a leading contender for both the Brown Advisory and Turners Novices' Chases

L’Homme Presse: a leading contender for both the Brown Advisory and Turners Novices’ Chases
Mark Cranham

What are the options? Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (2.10 Wednesday) or Turners Novices’ Chase (1.30 Thursday)

When will we know? His trainer Venetia Williams has heavily hinted that her star novice, unbeaten in four starts over fences, will step up in trip and take on the longer Brown Advisory rather than the Turners – for which he is a shorter price ante-post – with ground conditions set to be the deciding factor. Confirmations for the Brown Advisory are made on Thursday, but connections could wait for declarations next Monday to make a final choice.

What they say: Venetia Williams, trainer: “The door to go three miles has always been open ever since the entries went in. His part-owner Andy Edwards has said from the beginning that the going will make the decision. He won the Dipper over the same course as the Turners, which is half a furlong shorter.”

Odds: 4-1 (Brown Advisory), 7-2 (Turners)


What are the options? Ryanair Chase (2.50 Thursday) or Gold Cup (3.30 Friday)

When will we know? The surprise Irish Gold Cup winner is at the center of a battle of wills between trainer Gordon Elliott, who favorites running in the Gold Cup, and owner Michael O’Leary, who favors the Ryanair option. Confirmations for the Ryanair, which takes place a day before the Gold Cup, will be made by midday on Friday, but if the debate has not been settled by then we may not find out his destination until declaration time at 10am on Tuesday.

What they say: Gordon Elliott, trainer: “There’s been no call on where Conflated will run yet. I’ll have a chat with Michael and Eddie and we’ll see.”

Odds: 8-1 (Ryanair), 11-1 (Gold Cup)

What are the options? Ultima Handicap Chase (2.10 Tuesday) or National Hunt Chase (5.30 Tuesday)

When will we know? Again, a decision is not likely to be known for sure until final declarations for both races are made at 10am on Sunday, with connections leaning towards the Ultima after escaping with only a 5lb rise in the weights following Does He Know’s easy victory in the Reynoldstown .

What they say: Kim Bailey, trainer: “He’ll be confirmed for both races but he’s more likely to run in the handicap than in the novice but that could easily change. I’ll look at the opposition, if he ends up with a lot of weight it’s not very helpful to carry a lot in a handicap.”

Odds: 7-1 (Ultima), 12-1 (National Hunt Chase)


Read more on the Cheltenham Festival:

The Cheltenham acca proving ‘easyly the most popular multiple’ of the week

The Punting Club: best bets, big prices, Lucky 15s and more for next week’s Cheltenham Festival


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FIRST PUBLISHED 7:00AM, MAR 9 2022

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