The Entries for the Champion Hurdle, Mares’ Hurdle & Stayers’ Hurdle?

 

On Tuesday, both Honeysuckle and Constitution Hill were among 17 entries for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on March 14—a step closer to the highly anticipated contest.

Constitution Hill, trained by Nicky Henderson, is unbeaten and won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by 22 lengths over stablemate Jonbon, arguably the festival’s best performance.

Honeysuckle, who suffered her first defeat at Fairyhouse last month in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, may complete her sensational career with a hat trick in the feature on day one of the festival.

Willie Mullins, who may also be represented by Vauban, Sir Gerhard, Sharjah, and Echoes In Rain, has entered State Man as one of Constitution Hill’s greatest threats.

The number of entries for the 2m12f competition at this stage last year was 23; this year, there were only 17 entries.

Honeysuckle is still running in the Mares’ Hurdle, but Epatante is not there.

After Marie’s Rock was one of 24 horses entered, Henderson will also have a leading contender in the Mares’ Hurdle. Honeysuckle is also in the running, despite connections favouring the Champion Hurdle once more.

With an emphatic victory in the Relkeel Hurdle on New Year’s Day at Cheltenham, Marie’s Rock is the ante-post favourite to retain the Mares’ crown she won last year at odds of 18-1.

Epatante, her stablemate, was omitted by Henderson from the 2m4f Grade 1 entries, but she could be added later. Additionally, she is entered in the Champion Hurdle.

With Grade 1 winners Brandy Love and Echoes In Rain entered, Mullins is expected to hold a strong hand, and he may also be represented by Shewearsitwell, Braganza, and Gauloise. Mullins has won this race nine times since it was first introduced in 2008, six of those victories coming with Quevega.

Porter is flooring in pursuit of a Stayers hat trick.

Flooring Porter, who leads a field of 28 for the day-three highlight, will attempt to win the Stayers’ Hurdle for the third time in a row.

Home By The Lee, a fellow Irish raider who has defeated Flooring Porter twice this season, will present the eight-year-old, who is trained by Gavin Cromwell, with a formidable obstacle.

After winning the Jack de Bromhead Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown in style last month, Joseph O’Brien’s team is 6-1 with most companies.

It is anticipated that Paisley Park will also compete for Emma Lavelle. Paisley Park has finished third to Flooring Porter in this race the past two years. On Boxing Day, the veteran showed off his class by winning the Long Walk Hurdle at Kempton.

Champ, who won the Newbury Long Distance Hurdle over Paisley Park, was not entered.

The number of entries for the Stayers’ Hurdle has decreased since 2022, when 33 entries were received.

Entry lists in full

Champion Hurdle (17)

Bob Olinger
Constitution Hill
Echoes In Rain
Epatante
First Street
Honeysuckle
I Like To Move It
Jason The Militant
Knappers Hill
Love Envoi
Not So Sleepy
Pied Piper
Sharjah
Sir Gerhard
State Man
Vauban
Zanahiyr

Mares’ Hurdle (24)

Ailie Rose
Anna Bunina
Bop Bop Bobbin
Braganza
Brandy Love
Echoes In Rain
Gauloise
Get A Tonic
Holly Hartingo
Honeysuckle
Indefatigable
Lady Adare
Love Envoi
Marada
Marie’s Rock
Midnight Ginger
Molly Ollys Wishes
Queens Brook
Royale Margaux
Santa Rossa
Shewearsitwell
Skyace
Telmesomethinggirl
West Balboa

Stayers’ Hurdle (28)

Ashdale Bob
Asterion Forlonge
Beacon Edge
Blazing Khal
Botox Has
Buzz
Chacun Pour Soi
Dashel Drasher
Flooring Porter
Gelino Bello
Goshen
Haut En Couleurs
Hewick
Home By The Lee
Indefatigable
Klassical Dream
Langer Dan
Marie’s Rock
Monkfish
Paisley Park
Saint Sam
Sams Profile
Sharjah
Sir Gerhard
Sire Du Berlais
Summerville Boy
Teahupoo
Zanahiyr

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Beep Beep Burrow, the new horse that is aiming to raise money and awareness for Rob Burrow’s fight against motor neurone disease, will not make his debut on Tuesday at Doncaster because of a freak accident.

The six-year-old, whose name comes from the Leeds Rhinos nickname Beep Beep, was scheduled to compete in a bumper that had been renamed in his honor.

But trainer Jedd O’Keeffe said: “It’s unbelievably unlucky. We found him this morning lame in his box and found a haematoma between his front legs.

“We got the vet immediately and the vet found that he may have had a pin prick with a foreign body, or it might be as simple as an infected hair follicle. I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those ever, never mind on the morning of a race.”

“I feel so sorry for all the people who have put in so much effort.”

Burrow was scheduled to be in Doncaster with his family to watch Beep Beep Burrow run, whose debut shouldn’t be delayed long.

“It shouldn’t keep him out long at all,” O’Keeffe said. “He may be able to race in ten or 12 days once the medication is out of his system. The good news is that he is okay.”

Phil Hawthorne of The Good Racing Co., which runs Beep Beep Burrow’s racing club, stated: “We got a call from Jedd this morning but fortunately it’s something and nothing, we hope he could be out on January 28 at Doncaster.

“It’s unbelievably frustrating. ITV News were sending a crew, so were the BBC and Sky Sports. We were going to get a fair bit of PR from it.”

Burrow has had motor neurone disease for three years. Last month, at the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year, he received the Helen Rollason award for his efforts to raise awareness of the disease. This award honors outstanding achievement in the face of adversity.

Kevin Sinfield, his former Leeds Rhinos teammate, received a special award in recognition of his enormous fundraising efforts for MND charities.

Along with Burrow Seven, a six-year-old who defied nagging setbacks to finish second in a bumper and third in a novice hurdle from four starts before a further injury forced him into retirement, fellow ex-Rhino Barrie McDermott also helped establish a racing club.

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Warwick entries are led by Stage Star

The eight horses competing in the Grade 2 Hampton Chase (1.50) at Warwick during the five-day stage are led by Grade 1 winner Stage Star.

The seven-year-old horse, trained by Nicholls, returned to winning ways earlier this month at Plumpton, finishing 11 lengths ahead of Mortlach.

The dependable Completely Unknown, who triumphed over seven rivals in his chasing debut at Ffos Las, may also represent the Ditcheat handler.

As the seven-year-old mare tries to get back to winning ways after pulling up in the Kauto Star at Kempton on Boxing Day, Listed Winner Galia des Liteaux has an entry for Dan Skelton.

In the Grade 2 race, Gordon Elliott might ride Minella Crooner and The Goffer, and trainer John McConnell might ride Mahler Mission to help the Irish challenge.

The eight-man field is completed by Gentleman At Arms and the City Chief, trained by Nicky Henderson.

One of the 12 horses in contention for the Grade 2 Ballymore Novices Chase at Warwick (2.25) is Grey Dawning, a winner on Kempton’s Boxing Day card.

Due to the fact that the Grade 2 Persian War was landed at Chepstow earlier in the campaign, the Accidental Rebel, trained by Fergal O’Brien, may also appear.

Iwilldoit, the winner of the Welsh Grand National in 2021, is one of 20 horses entered in the 3m5f Classic Chase (3.00).

Nestor Park, Lord Du Mesnil, Fortescue, and Threeunderthrufive all have entries and are strong contenders.

Hampton Novices’ Chase entries
City Chief Nicky Henderson
Complete Unknown Paul Nicholls
Galia Des Liteaux Dan Skelton
Gentleman At Arms Stuart Edmunds
Mahler Mission John McConnell
Minella Crooner Gordon Elliott
Stage Star Paul Nicholls
The Goffer Gordon Elliott

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Pic D’Orhy and Saint Calvados lead a field of six in Saturday’s Grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton (2.05), where champion trainer Paul Nicholls could saddle two runners.

The last time Pic D’Orhy was seen was when he won the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon last month, finishing two lengths ahead of Millers Bank. He is a 33-1 favorite for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

The six-year-old horse is 2-2 this season. On his seasonal return in October, he also won a 2m5f intermediate chase at Newton Abbot.

Nicholls has won this race twice in the past three years, and Saint Calvados, owned by David Maxwell, may take advantage of the opportunity to run for the first time since coming in second place out of two in the 1965 Chase at Ascot in November.

Evan Williams, who is aiming for his first victory in the race, could be represented by Coole Cody, who defeated Saint Calvados that day.

Coole Cody competed twice at Cheltenham prior to his victory at Ascot, finishing seventh of 13 in a handicap hurdle over 2 miles 4 feet before pulling up in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.

Clondaw Castle, a 160-rated Paint The Dream and Betfair Chase fourth seed, could compete, and Angels Breath has an opportunity to make his stable debut since joining the Sam Thomas yard from Nicky Henderson and making his first start since December 2019.

There are 27 entries in Kempton’s Lanzarote Hurdle (2.40), including the Camprond, trained by Philip Hobbs, and the Nicholls duo of Outlaw Peter and Red Risk.

Camprond, owned by JP McManus, is going back to hurdles after failing to get going over fences in either of his two starts this season.

With a 19-length victory at Exeter two months ago, Outlaw Peter made it three wins from eight career starts. Red Risk also won on their most recent appearances.

Pentland Hills, Henderson’s Grade 1 winner, could return, and the Seven Barrows trainer might also ride Captain Morgs and Rathmacknee.

Another possibility is the West Balboa, trained by Skelton, who finished second to Stage Star in the 2021 renewal of the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle.

Dubrovnik Harry, Fifty Ball, Le Patron, and Mark Of Gold, on the other hand, could represent Gary Moore in the competition.

Silviniaco Conti Chase entries
Angels Breath, Sam Thomas
Clondaw Castle, Tom George
Coole Cody, Evan Williams
Paint The Dream, Fergal O’Brien
Pic D’Orhy, Paul Nicholls
Saint Calvados, Paul Nicholls

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Could Grangeclare West be yet another class act for Willie Mullins? “He has a huge engine”:

Sunday: 2.20 Naas
Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) | 2m3f212y | 5yo+

The last seven favorites have won this Grade 1 race, including Bob Olinger and Envoi Allen, who went on to win the Ballymore. Grangeclare West will be trying to continue that pattern.

Willie Mullins, who has won this race eight times, could have run Gaelic Warrior, who finished second to Boodles and won at Tramore by 86 lengths in his only start this season.

He is not in the lineup at all, and Mullins has chosen Grangeclare West to lead his challenge instead. In November, the unbeaten seven-year-old won his first hurdles race at Navan by 13 lengths after sprinting clear of the last. At the time, it looked like a hot maiden, but it doesn’t anymore.

Since then, the second and third horses have lost, and none of the 12 horses that left the race and ran again have won. Grangeclare West, on the other hand, could only win, and he did so with skill.

The son of Presenting scored at Navan with a Racing Post Rating of 140, 5 pounds less than Dawn Rising’s victory over American Mike in the Grade 3 Monksfield Novice Hurdle on the same day.

The time comparison is the most interesting aspect. Dawn Rising beat Grangeclare West by 3.8 seconds to win the 2m4f maiden hurdle in a time of 5min 17.20sec. Take what you want from that. Despite the fact that they were different races that were run in different ways, it’s still fascinating to see the six-year-old trained by Joseph O’Brien win in a shorter amount of time and at a higher price.

Dawn Rising appears to be a foregone conclusion. On his final Flat start, the son of Galileo defeated Al Aasy in the Bahrain Trophy, earning a rating of 102. Expect him to return strongly given that there appears to be a lot of pace here. When he scored late at Navan, he defied Betfair’s in-running high of 499-1.

When it appeared that Affordale Fury had won his argument with American Mike, he dropped to evens in the same race and finished last. Could he have been overlooked here?

You could certainly argue that Irish Point is the best form. Last time, he was close to winning the Royal Bond, but Supreme-bound Marine Nationale caught him too late. Given that this was only his second start over hurdles, he put in a strong effort, and he could be even better over this longer distance. Gordon Elliott, who has won four of the last six races, must have a big chance with him.

Paul Townend admitted that he was surprised by the manner in which he won the maiden hurdle at Navan in November, describing his jumping as “brilliant,” and he named West Grangeclare West as his primary threat to the race.

With McKinley in 2015 and Next Destination three years later, Townend has won this race twice. The five-time champion jockey believes that Inothewayurthinkin could be his biggest threat.

Townend stated, “This is a hot race every year and fits in well with the calendar. Grangeclare West won a competitive maiden hurdle at Navan and the manner in which he won it surprised us after being off the track for so long. He jumped brilliantly that day and did things right. I think he has a huge engine. He missed a lot of time after winning at Punchestown in May of 2021 but he seems to be fine now and I hope we can make up for lost time.”

Townend added in his Ladbrokes blog post: “Irish Point was second in the Royal Bond and that is a high level of form to bring here. I do like Inothewayurthinkin. He beat me quite snugly at Cork when I rode Lot Of Joy and then did well to get up to beat Imagine at Gowran in a slowly run race the last day. I think the step up in trip will suit him as well. I hope I’m on the right one and it will be a cracking renewal.”

 

 

 

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Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle, Sandown

Paul Nicholls won the Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle for the fifth time on Saturday when Harry Cobden rode Tahmuras to victory.

Tahmuras, owned by a syndicate formed by former jockeys Noel Fehily and Dave Crosse, traveled well but wandered in the final stages, but it was strong enough to defeat L’Astroboy with Nemean Lion coming in third.

The winner, who returned at 5-2, is now 10-1 (from 33) with Paddy Power and Betfair for the Cheltenham Festival’s Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Constitution Hill, who won the Tolworth a year ago, was the last horse to win that race. Summerville Boy also did the double in 2018.

Tahmuras is also quoted as 10-1 (from 20) by Betfair and Paddy Power for the festival’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Cobden said, after winning his first Tolworth, “He’s a good horse. As soon as he’s got the front, he’s idled a fair bit, but the ground’s pretty testing. If something was to get him beat it was that, but he’s obviously very good.”

“The mistake [two out] probably helped me because I didn’t get there ten minutes too soon – it was only five! He’s a lovely horse who will keep progressing. We’ll definitely see him at his best when he steps up in trip; the only reason he’s winning now over two miles is because he’s so good.”

Tahmuras was a point-to-point winner in Ireland when he was younger before joining Nicholls’ Ditcheat operation. He is the son of Falco, a top-class miler in France. After that, he won a bumper at Wincanton and got off to a great start in his hurdling career with impressive victories at Chepstow and Haydock in November.

Fehily said, “He’s not too dissimilar to Summerville Boy, whom I rode in this race. He’s probably a better jumper, but he stays well and has a lot of ability; he’s getting better with every run.”

Crosse added, “I’d say we’d 100 per cent be going for it [the Supreme]. We had a taste of Cheltenham glory last year with Love Envoi and we want more of it but we’ll speak to Paul.

“When we bought this horse as a four-year-old, all he did was grow and mature. We thought he’d step up in grade over two and a half miles, but he’s shown a lot more speed and keeps answering. He couldn’t have been more impressive today and has the world at his feet.”

Nicholls previously won the Tolworth with Thisthatandtother, Noland, Silverburn, and Breedsbreeze. Bravemansgame (King George VI Chase) and Hermes Allen (Challow) have helped him win three British Grade 1s in a row.

 

Trainer Philip Hobbs says that the impressive Thyme Hill, will go to Ascot next for his Cheltenham Festival preparation. He is currently the shortest-priced British-trained horse in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

The Grade One-winning hurdler quelled the fears over his jumping last Monday, when winning the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton by 15 lengths.

Thyme Hill is best-priced 10-1 to land the 3 mile contest which would be a second victory forPhilip Hobbs, after One Knight’s win in 2003. However, it should be a very competitive affair with recent top-level winners Gaillard Du Mesnil and Gerri Colombe at the top of the market at 8-1.

“He’s come out of the race well,” said Hobbs. “I presume we’ll be looking at a race like the Reynoldstown next for him before we think about Cheltenham.”

Hobbs thinks the testing conditions at Kempton suited his runner, who reversed Newbury form with McFabulous, and will now target the race O’Faolains Boy won before going on to land the Brown Advisory in 2014.

Hobbs said: “I think it was a combination of the cheekpieces, soft ground and a strong pace which saw him improve.”

The victory was a third at the top level and second over fences for Thyme Hill. Thyme Hill started chasing at the relatively late age of eight.

 

 

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This Saturday will see some top-level horse racing at Sandown in the shape of the Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle (2.25 Saturday).

Paul Nicholls will be looking to secure more top-level success in the race with Tahmuras. Twelve months ago he was chased down by the magnificent Consitution Hill, but comes here off the back of three straight wins.

Nicholls said, “It’s a Grade 1 and it looks like it will be a good race. He’s unbeaten this season and his form is good and solid, while he’ll love the testing ground. We’re looking forward to him.”

Tahmuras is will likely face a tough challenge in the promising Authorised Speed who has also entered. Luccia, of Nicky Henderson, will also be looking to land the prize.

Arctic Bresil is one who could represent Henry de Bromhead in the race to land the £70,000 spoils.

Tolworth Hurdle Entries

Arctic Bresil Henry de Bromhead
Authorised Speed Gary Moore
Blow Your Wad Tom Lacey
Colonel Harry Jamie Snowden
Joe Dadancer Ben Pauling
L’Astroboy Evan Williams
Luccia Nicky Henderson
Nemean Lion Kerry Lee
Scarface Joe Tizzard
Tahmuras Paul Nicholls
Ukantango Olly Murphy

Later on the card is the Veterans’ Chase Series Final (3.00), sponsored by Unibet, and this popular £100,000 race has 19 entries.

Prime Venture will be looking to defend his crown, while four 13-year-olds could line up: Crosspark, Wishing And Hoping, Indy Five and Sir Ivan.

Last season’s Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle winner Love Envoi has been entered again, but this time in the Listed Unibet 3 Uniboosts A Day Mares’ Hurdle (12.40). There are six entries including Martello Sky and Indefatigable.

The going at Sandown was described as soft over hurdles and soft, good to soft in places on Monday, but those conditions could become more testing with much rain forecast this week.

 

 

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Harry Bannister, who has been out since October after dislocating a hip in a bad fall, is planning to be back riding within weeks. In the coming days, he will sit on a horse for the first time since the injury and he believes that he will be back racing come the end of January.

Harry had his best season of winners and prize-money last season and he had been itching to build on it this winter.  However, his fall from Godrevy Point in a handicap chase at Stratford was a blow to those ambitions, meaning the frustration of months away from the track.

Fortunately, after multiple surgeries were a success, he can now look forward to returning sooner rather than later.

Bannister said, “We’re pretty much there. I’ve got a scan in two weeks and if that goes well, I won’t be far off.

“I’m hopefully going to ride out in the next week or so. The doctors and those involved have said the recovery has gone smoothly. By the sounds of it they did a very good job with the initial two surgeries, so that’s helped.”

“I’m close to Lambourn and there’s a hydrotherapy pool and gym at Oaksey, and Rob [Treviss] and Anna [Fisher] have been brilliant,” he added. “Jerry Hill has been influential in where we go with it all and how much we do, but I think it’s all gone pretty well.”

“There are things you can’t be certain about and things could go either way, but, from what everyone says, we’ve gone the right side of it, so hopefully I can put it behind me and go again.”

“No time to be injured is good, but November and December are two of the busiest months, so it was quite tough to miss, although being at Oaksey has helped the sanity. I’ve been able to keep busy and keep my mind on something, but it was unfortunate I wasn’t able to build on last season.”

We are wishing Harry Bannister well, and hopefully he can soon add to his handful of graded victories in the near future.

 

 

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Gary Moore has lamented this jumps season as the worst he has known since he got his licence in 30 years ago.

Despite having success in valuable races with Goshen and Botox, he said that the unseasonably dry weather followed by the recent bitter temperatures have led to an incredibly challenging few months.

“This has been the worst season I’ve ever known for training jumps horses,” he said. “If it isn’t quick ground you’ve got too much sun on the hurdles and fences, so they’re omitted, and then you’ve got these mass cancellations of meetings due to the freezing temperatures. It’s bonkers and never-ending.”

“It’s difficult to navigate as a team because the horses are ready to run and we’ve been in limbo this week. We can’t back off them because there’s always a chance racing might be on, even if realistically we think it won’t be. We just have to keep our fingers crossed things thaw out.”

“Then the races aren’t there when you want them. There aren’t going to be small novice hurdles around for young horses as everyone is going to run in them. Who would be a jumps trainer?”

Moore, who is based in West Sussex, has showcased two very smart prospects in Authorised Speed and Givega in recent months. Both of them started their seasons at Lingfield where Gary Moore believes has been the only course to provide genuine soft ground.

“The ground has been the main factor,” he said. “The only two meetings that have had proper soft ground this season were at Lingfield. We just haven’t had much rain. Since when do courses water in November? I’ve never known anything like it before.”

When the weather settles, the train has much to look forward to and he is hoping forecast rising temperatures mean he will soon be able to give opportunities to a number of good prospects.

The trainer isn’t far off debuting another top-class prospect, with French import Bo Zenith to make the move to his more established stablemates at Kempton.

He was last seen beating impressive Cork winner Blood Destiny at Auteuil in April and is already at most 20-1 for the Triumph Hurdle in March.

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