THERE may not be a traditional ‘Cheltenham roar’ as the flag goes down this year at the Festival.
But the show must go on and we have you covered with all the latest must have build-up as the big one edges closer.
Turning a corner?
COLIN TIZZARD hopes a wind-op can breathe new life into stable star Lostintranslation.
Last year’s Gold Cup third has options of Saturday’s Ascot Chase or the Denman Chase at Newbury the following day.
And Tizzard will be heading wherever the better ground appears.
He said: “We’ll wait and see but Newbury has been one of the quickest tracks around of late and looks likelier perhaps.
“The horse likes better ground so we’ll see what Ascot looks like come declaration time.
“We’ve cauterised his palate since the King George and given him a bit of time off.
“But we know if we get him back to his best then he’s as good as anything, if not better, than what we’ll face on the weekend in either race.”
A relaxation in protocols means stable jockey Robbie Power may be able to travel back from Ireland for the weekend.
And with The Big Breakaway also set for the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot, Tizzard hopes he can make it.
He said: “Robbie might be able to get back, they’ve changed the rules in the last week or so, but it still needs to be finalised.
“If he can’t for whatever reason then Jonjo O’Neill Jr will step in.”
Tizzard’s Dorset team struggled for form through the first half of the season but appear to have turned a corner.
Native River starred in the Cotswold Chase and the yard are operating at a 19% strike rate after waiting 44 days for a winner.
Tizzard added: “People like to talk about our form but the horses are running well now.
“It’s not like we’re 87th in the championship, we haven’t fallen off the face of the earth!
“We want to get another run into The Big Breakaway and this race makes sense.
“He made a couple of mistakes at Kempton and we need to stop those. We know how good he could be if we sort that.”
Benie Out of Action
WILLIE MULLINS has ruled his star mare Benie Des Dieux out of the Cheltenham Festival.
After she drifted on the exchanges for both of the two races she held entries in – the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle and the mares’ hurdle – Mullins released a statement late on Tuesday.
He said: “Benie Des Dieux hasn’t been pleasing me in our quest to get her to Cheltenham and regrettably we have had to make the decision to withdraw her from the festival.
“I’ll try to get her to make Punchestown but we’ll have to see how things go. It’s very disappointing for everyone as we thought she would make it to Cheltenham but unfortunately time just ran out.”
Unsurprisingly Mullins still holds a strong hand in the mares’ race – he’s won it nine times since it was added to the Festival in 2008!
Concertista remains the red-hot favourite at 11-10 with Betfair and Paddy Power and 6-5 with Betway.
Stayers’ Hurdle shake-up?
Haydock’s William Hill Rendlesham Hurdle could see a number of live outsiders emerge in the Stayers’ Hurdle market.
Last year’s 50-1 Festival hero Lisnagar Oscar is in line to run for Rebecca Curtis. He’s not been himself in two starts this season but is still only eight and has had a wind-op. Don’t give up on him just yet.
Warren Greatrex will send Emitom back over hurdles after a break. He’s currently 33-1 for the Stayers’ but went off at only 10-1 for the big one last season.
A bold showing at Haydock on Saturday and he’ll shoot back up the betting.
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