ENTRIES were revealed this week for the four novice chases at the Cheltenham Festival.

Numbers were down on previous years mainly down to a lack of British horses entered as the novice chases attracted the lowest number of entries this century.

Honours were shared in these novice contests last year when Shishkin and Chantry House gained two of only five wins for British-trained horses at the Festival but Irish stables dominate the top of the markets again with Ferny Hollow, Galopin Des Champs, Bob Olinger and Run Wild Fred occupying the favourites’ position.

The total of 163 entries is down 60 on the 223 horses entered in 2020. Irish-trained runners account for 81 of the entries. Last year’s figure had been partly put down to the lack of ‘social runners’ at a meeting held behind closed doors.

Ferny Hollow heads the Arkle betting and is the top rated novice after his Leopardstown win, giving 13lbs to Riviere D’Etel. That mare has entries in the Arkle and the Turners. Blue Lord, Haut En Coleurs and Saint Sam give Willie Mullins a strong back-up team.

The main absentee from an Irish angle is Paddy Corkery’s Limerick Grade 1 winner Master McShee but the trainer had never been keen to go to the Festival.

Edwardstone and Dan Skelton’s dual course winner Third Time Lucki are the leading British contenders.

Willie Mullins’ Jungle Boogie, a winner at Fairyhouse over two miles and five furlongs is entered in all four of the novice contests.

One of the leading British novices Ahoy Senor was given a Gold Cup entry and is only in one of the novice contests – the three mile Brown Advisory.

Galopin Des Champ heads the Brown Advisory betting but is also entered in the shorter Turners Novices, as are his main rivals, Bob Olinger and Paul Nicholls’ Bravemansgame.

Gordon Elliott’s Christmas Grade 1 winner Fury Road is also entered in both races as well as the National Hunt Chase. Capodanno was the subject of interest after his second to Bob Olinger and is entered in this and the Turners and Brown Advisory.

Elliott has a good record in the longer race and the Gigginstown House Stud’s Farouk D’Alene, Frontal Assault and Torygraph may represent him along with The Bosses Oscar.

Gavin Cromwell has last year’s Grade 1 Albert Bartlett winner Vanillier along with his Gabynako in the Brown Advisory and Turners.