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Cheltenham Fixture Should Offer Some Festival Clues


There's a big day ahead of us on Saturday with several enticing-looking fixtures set to roll at Cheltenham. The day's opener is going to reveal the out-and-out contender for the JCB Triumph Hurdle as the trio of contenders rated around 8/1 for the festival contest with Grumeti, Hinterland and Hollow Tree all showing up for this one.


Notching a Grade 2 in your build-up for festival time is certainly a welcome occurrence by virtually any owner so keep your eyes peeled for the early going to prove decisive as position could wind up being the genuine kingmaker as opposed to outright form – especially if we don't see many withdrawals from this fourteen strong field that also includes Sadler's Risk.


A handful of talented handicappers will be battling it out in the third race of the day – the Group 3 Murphy Group Chase. Look for Calgary Bay to make a big statement here while the likes of Tartak, Billie Magern and Tamarinbleu should be respected as well. Expect weight assignments to have a significant bearing on this one.

The Argento Chase is the day's Grade 2 feature and you'll likely see Captain Chris continue his progression towards the Gold Cup in this one. He proved his ability to stay on and at least go the distance when coming home behind Kauto Star and Long Run in the 2011 King George at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Grands Crus, Tidal Bay and Any Currency will also be in the mix for this one and it will be especially interesting to see how Captain Chris handles another tough group of experienced chasers. He has the raw talent but his jumping ability and poise will be put to a real test here today with a much more winnable race than the King George.

There's also a prep afterwards for the Neptune Novices and you can expect a few surprises in this one and a long-odds winner wouldn't be out of the question in the least. Broadbackbob, Forgotten Gold and Knight Pass should all command respect in the odds but Alan King's improving Batonnier could prove interesting as well.

Big Buck's will dominate the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle following that one but look for a tough battle for the place position as Kayf Aramis and Restless Harry to acquit themselves well.