AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

Cheltenham Festival: LATEST NEWS

That completes our countdown news service. All the headlines will now be made on the track. Best of luck !

We’ve captured the key Cheltenham stories in snappy bullet point format from 20 days before the Festival so you can keep in touch, at a glance.

Monday 13 March – DAY TO GO

  • Willie Mullins’ stranglehold on the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle could continue at Cheltenham on Tuesday but it remains to be seen whether it will be last year’s winner Vroum Vroum Mag or Limini that will prove his number one hope.
  • Douvan will face nine rivals in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on Wednesday.
  • Willie Mullins is banking on Melon’s ability making up for his inexperience in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Sunday 12 March – DAYS TO GO

  • Cue Card and Native River are reported to be thriving at Colin Tizzard’s base as the Gold Cup looms at Cheltenham.
  • Empire Of Dirt looks set to stick to the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham on Thursday despite the defection of Don Poli from the Gold Cup.
  • Movewiththetimes became the latest Cheltenham Festival casualty after being ruled out of Tuesday’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle through injury.

Saturday 11 March – DAYS TO GO

  • Don Poli has been ruled out of next week’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup after suffering a setback.
  • Alan King is confident Yanworth will run “extremely well” in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.
  • Ellmarie Holden is looking forward to saddling her first ever runner at the Cheltenham Festival when Ex Patriot lines up in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

Friday 10 March – DAYS TO GO

  • Road To Riches has been ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival with a setback and might not run again this season.
  • Douvan will face a maximum of 14 rivals in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on Wednesday.
  • Willie Mullins has 20 of the remaining 40 possibles in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle next Wednesday at Cheltenham.

Thursday 9 March – DAYS TO GO

  • Sire De Grugy has been ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival, but trainer Gary Moore could still be represented by Traffic Fluide in the Queen Mother Champion Chase
  • Trainer Andrew Lynch will hang fire on making a decision about which race Zabana tackles at Cheltenham until he sees what way the ground is at Prestbury Park.
  • Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse left the going unchanged at good to soft, soft in places, on Wednesday after more rain fell at the Gloucestershire track. No further outbreaks of rain are forecast before the weekend when it could become wet again on Sunday.

Wednesday 8 March – DAYS TO GO

  • Limini has not been supplemented for Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle leaving Buveur D’Air and Yanworth to top 13 contenders.
  • Altior heads 15 horses to have stood their ground for the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham on Tuesday following the confirmation stage.
  • Ante-post favourite Melon is one of 10 possibles for trainer Willie Mullins in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Tuesday, the opening race of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

Tuesday 7 March – DAYS TO GO

  • Clerk of the course Simon Claisse does not expect any significant changes to ground conditions with the Cheltenham Festival now just over a week away. The going is currently described as good to soft on the Old Course, which is used on the Tuesday and Wednesday, and good to soft, good in places on the New Course for Thursday and Friday. “The forecast remains unsettled, with bits and pieces of rain coming in during the course of the next week amounting to somewhere between nine and 11 millimetres,” said Claisse.
  • Mark Walsh is set to partner Yanworth in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next Tuesday.
  • Peace And Co has not been entered for Saturday’s Imperial Cup at Sandown and will head straight for the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Monday 6 March – DAYS TO GO

  • Djakadam and Yorkhill please Willie Mullins after racing at Leopardstown in pre-festival gallops. He said of Gold Cup hope Djakadam “He has not run since Christmas, but I think he is best when fresh and I was very pleased with him there today.”
  • Waiting Patiently is making connections do just that as a small setback has ruled him out of the Cheltenham Festival. Trainer Malcolm Jeffersonn said: “He’s just got a slight niggle so we are waiting patiently, for Aintree all being well.”
  • Trainer Noel Meade reports his two main hopes for the Cheltenham Festival, Disko and A Genie In Abottle, to be in tip-top condition with just over a week to go to the big meeting.

Sunday 5 March – DAYS TO GO

  • Kim Bailey insists “now is not the time to experiment” as Charbel gears up for a daunting rematch with Altior.
  • Nicky Richards is preparing Simply Ned for a second crack at the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
  • Remiluc could give trainer Chris Gordon a Cheltenham Festival runner after initiating a double for the trainer with victory in the Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Newbury.

Saturday 4 March – 10 DAYS TO GO

  • Harry Fry is not yet in a position to confirm who will replace the sidelined Barry Geraghty aboard Unowhatimeanharry.
  • David Pipe seems likely to wait until the final declaration stage to confirm Moon Racer’s target at the Cheltenham Festival.
  • Alan King is readying a typically strong team of four-year-olds for the Cheltenham Festival, headed by Master Blueyes.

Friday 3 March – 11 DAYS TO GO

  • Coney Island, a leading fancy for the RSA and JLT Novices’ Chase, has been ruled out of Cheltenham after a setback.
  • Rich Ricci appears to have cooled over of the prospects of supplementing Limini into the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham later this month.
  • ITV Racing weather forecaster Lucy Verasamy expects Cheltenham to receive further rain over the coming days and has forecast possibile frost and fog during the festival.

Thursday 2 March – 12 DAYS TO GO

  • Emerging Force, around 16/1 for the JT McNamara National Hunt Chase, will not run, trainer Harry Whittington has revealed.
  • Neil Mulholland has warned ground conditions will dictate which race Shantou Village contests at the Cheltenham Festival.
  • Alan King hopes to have a jockey in place to ride leading Champion Hurdle contender Yanworth by the weekend.

Wednesday 1 March – 13 DAYS TO GO

  • Gordon Elliott is keen to know the handicapper’s assessment of The Storyteller ahead of a tilt at the Martin Pipe.
  • Colin Tizzard has reiterated that Thistlecrack will not run in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
  • Gordon Elliott is planning to send a team of around 30 horses for the Cheltenham Festival.

Tuesday 28 February – 14 DAYS TO GO

  • Willie Mullins expects Ruby Walsh to side with Melon in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
  • Willie Mullins appears increasingly keen to “take a punt” with Limini by supplementing her for the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
  • My Mate Mark will be a first Cheltenham Festival runner for Newmarket trainer Martin Smith when he contests the Champion Bumper.

Monday 27 February – 15 DAYS TO GO

  • Barry Geraghty will miss this year’s Cheltenham Festival after it emerged the injuries he sustained at Kempton on Saturday were more severe than first thought.
  • Gary Moore admits Sire De Grugy will have to start showing a bit more on the gallops at home before he is seen back on the track. He has entries in both the Champion Chase and Johnny Henderson Grand Annual.
  • Tombstone, winner of the Grade 3 Red Mills Hurdle at Gowran Park on his most recent start, is to be supplemented for the Champion Hurdle.

Sunday 26 February – 16 DAYS TO GO

  • Barry Geraghty is “hopeful” he will still be able to ride at the Cheltenham Festival despite being injured in a fall.
  • Nicky Henderson expressed his delight after Brain Power, Peace And Co and Josses Hill took part in a racecourse workout at Kempton.
  • Alan King admits Yanworth will have to improve on his recent Wincanton win if he is to make his presence felt in the Champion Hurdle.

Saturday 25 February – 17 DAYS TO GO

  • Several Festival hopes are in action on Saturday including the Nicky Henderson trained Charli Parcs in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton before an intended engagement in the Triumph Hurdle.
  • Meanwhile in Ireland Landofhopeandglory is hoping to strengthen his own Triumph Hurdle claims with a win in the Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle at 1.45pm.
  • Early birds at Kempton could glean some Cheltenham Festival clues, with Nicky Henderson working some of his team before racing. Brain Power, Josses Hill and Peace And Co are all expected to exercise at 12.30pm.

Friday 24 February – 18 DAYS TO GO

  • Supplementing Limini for the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival “has to be thought about”, said Willie Mullins.
  • Lizzie Kelly is set to be the first woman to ride in the Timico Gold Cup for 33 years onboard Tea For Two.
  • Thursday’s Thurles winner Tin Soldier holds multiple engagements at the Cheltenham Festival, but is unlikely to make the trip to Prestbury Park.

Thursday 23 February – 19 DAYS TO GO

  • Graeme McPherson expects Ami Desbois to outrun his price in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
  • Nicky Henderson has raised the possibility of Noel Fehily being reunited with Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle.
  • Nicky Henderson believes Un De Sceaux will be almost unbeatable in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival should conditions be in his favour.

Wednesday 22 February – 20 DAYS TO GO

  • Limini pounced to beat Apple’s Jade in the Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown. Apple’s Jade was sent off a 2/5 favourite for the Listed contest over two and a half miles, with Limini an easy-to-back 3/1 chance on her return from a 298-day absence.
  • Harry Fry is no closer to deciding which race his star youngster Neon Wolf will contest at next month’s Cheltenham Festival. The unbeaten runner could could either line up in the Supreme or the longer Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at Prestbury Park.
  • Ground conditions will be key in deciding whether Acapella Bourgeois will contest the RSA Chase at Cheltenham. Trainer Sandra Hughes said: “I’m training him for Cheltenham and I might even travel him, but he won’t run unless the ground is soft.”