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Altior and Douvan among the stars for The Festival
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Altior and Douvan among the stars for The Festival
on 16 February 2018
The two star chasers Altior and Douvan are set for a mouth-watering clash in the £400,000 Grade 1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase over two miles on Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 14th

ALITOR and Douvan are among the exciting acceptors for the six non-novice Grade 1 championship races at the Festival next month following yesterday's scratchings' stage, details of which are revealed today.

The two star chasers are set for a mouth-watering clash in the £400,000 Grade 1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase over two miles on Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 14th. Douvan (Willie Mullins IRE), yet to race this season, is top-rated with Timeform on 193 and could reappear at Gowran Park at the weekend, while unbeaten chaser Altior (Nicky Henderson, 186p with Timeform) made an impressive comeback in the G2 Game Spirit Chase at Newbury last Saturday.

The 21 confirmations for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase also include Douvan's stablemates Min (180+), who defeated last year's winner Special Tiara (Henry de Bromhead IRE, 175) at Leopardstown recently, and the highly-rated Great Field (Willie Mullins, 179p). Grade 1 Betfair Tingle Creek Chase victor Politilogue (Paul Nicholls, 176) also goes forward.

The following nine horses have been scratched from the Queen Mother Champion Chase: A Toi Phil (Fr), Acapella Bourgeois (Fr), Black Hercules (Ire), Foxtail hill (Ire), Polidam (Fr), San Benedeto (Fr), Tully East (Ire), Valdez, Waiting Patiently (Ire).

GOLD CUP

Might Bite (Nicky Henderson, 183+) and the 2017 winner Sizing John (Jessica Harrington IRE, 183) headline the 27 going for glory in the highlight of The Festival, the £625,000 Grade 1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (3m 2f 110y), on the fourth and final day, Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 16th.

Native River (Colin Tizzard, 181), who was victorious on his return to action last weekend in the Grade 2 Denman Chase at Newbury, and impressive Grade 2 BetBright Cotswold Chase winner Definitly Red (Brian Ellison, 177+), are among the home challengers for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Road To Respect (Noel Meade IRE, 179) and Edwulf (Joseph O'Brien IRE, 176), successful in the Grade 1 Leopardstown Christmas Chase and Grade 1 Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown respectively, remain engaged too in chasing's championship race.

The following horses have been scratched from the Gold Cup: Acapella Bourgeois (Fr), Bristol De Mai (Fr), Clan Des Obeaux (Fr), Cloudy Dream (Ire), Coneygree, Disko (Fr), Empire Of Dirt (Ire), Rock The Kasbah (Ire), Singlefarmpayment, Smad Place (Fr), Whisper (Fr)

RYANAIR CHASE

Ireland's champion jump trainer Willie Mullins has a strong hand in the £350,000 Grade 1 Ryanair Chase (2m 5f), the feature race on St Patrick's Thursday, March 15th, with nine of the 28 confirmations. They include Douvan (193?), Min and last year's winner Un De Sceaux (180).

Top Notch (Nicky Henderson, 181) has won his last two starts impressively and goes for this weekend's Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase, in which he is set to clash 16 with Waiting Patiently (Ruth Jefferson, 177p), Coney Island (Eddie Harty IRE, 177+) and Cue Card (Colin Tizzard, 177).

The following horses have been scratched from the Ryanair Chase: Acapella Bourgeois (Fr), American Tom (Fr), Aso (Fr), Black Hercules (Ire), Clan Des Obeauz (Fr), Disko (Fr), Double Shuffle (Ire), Flying Angel (Ire), Long House Hall (Ire), Polidam (Fr), Road To Respect (Ire), Shantou Dlyer (Ire), Smad Place (Fr), Total Recall (Ire), Tully East (Ire), WIllie Boy (Ire)

CHAMPION HURDLE

Hot favourite and defending champion Buveur D'Air (Nicky Henderson, 181) headlines 19 going forward for the £450,000 Grade 1 Unibet Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the Festival, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 13th. The seven-year-old is three from three so far this season, including an easy success in the Grade 1 Unibet Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park.

His owner J P McManus also has My Tent Or Yours (Nicky Henderson, 174), runner-up three times in the Unibet Champion Hurdle, who gained a deserved success in the Grade 2 Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.

Faugheen (Willie Mullins, 174) won hurdling's highlight in 2015 and his stablemates Wicklow Brave (172§) and Melon (170), who finished second in last season's opener at the Festival, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, are also engaged.

The following four horses have been scratched from the Champion Hurdle: Campeador (Fr), Defi Du Seuil (Fr), Moon Racer (Ire), The New One (Ire).

STAYERS HURDLE

Top mare Apple's Jade (Gordon Elliott IRE) heads Timeform's weight-adjusted ratings for both the £325,000 Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle (26 acceptors, 3m) and the £120,000 Grade 1 OLBG Mares' Hurdle (27 acceptors, 2m 4f), which she won last year. She has a weight-adjusted rating of 176 for the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle and 174 for the OLBG Mares' Hurdle.

The confirmations for the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle, staged on St Patrick's Thursday, also include Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle scorer Sam Spinner (Jedd O'Keeffe), last year's Coral Cup hero Supasundae (Jessica Harrington IRE), and Yanworth (Alan King). All three are rated 175 by Timeform.

The New One (Nigel Twiston-Davies, 174) won the Grade 2 Unibet Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock Park for the fourth time on January 20 and is set to step up to three miles in the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle.

The following 12 horses have been scatched from the Stayers Hurdle: Bapaume (Fr), Barters Hill (Ire), Beer Goggles (Ire), Cole Harden (Ire), Ex Patriot (Ire), Willoughby Court (Ire), Hammersly Lake (Fr), Mala Beach (Ire), Prince Of Scars (Ire), Renneti (Fr), Shaneshill (Ire), The Last Samuri (Ire).

MARES HURDLE

The OLBG Mares' Hurdle, which takes place on Champion Day, also has in order of Timeform rating, the 2016 winner and 2017 runner-up Vroum Vroum Mag (Willie Mullins, 167), Colin's Sister (Fergal O'Brien, 164), Lagostovegas (Willie Mullins, 163), Let's Dance (Willie Mullins, 163), La Bague Au Roi (Warren Greatrex, 162+), Augusta Kate (Willie Mullins, 162) and Verdana Blue (Nicky Henderson, 160).

The following six horses have been scratched from the mares hurdle: All Currencies (Ire), Copper Kay, Dame Rose (Fr), Desert Queen, Lamanver Odyssey, Poppy Kay.

Mullins has enjoyed success in eight of the 10 runnings of the OLBG Mares' Hurdle.

The following six horses have been scratched from the mares hurdle: All Currencies (Ire), Copper Kay, Dame Rose (Fr), Desert Queen, Lamanver Odyssey, Poppy Kay.

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