The Cheltenham Festival 2020: The race of The Festival™ presented by Magners for many is set to take place on day two, Wednesday 11th March, with defending champion Altior on course to clash with Defi du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi in the £400,000 G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30pm, 11 confirmations).
Now a 10-year-old, Altior (Nicky Henderson) is bidding for a third straight victory in the two-mile highlight, a feat achieved only once before by the great Badsworth Boy in 1983, 1984 & 1985.
Altior has yet to taste defeat in four appearances at The Festival, having also lifted the 2016 G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the 2017 G1 Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase.
The pretenders to his crown are set to arrive at the top of their game. With Altior having tackled a longer distance at the start of the campaign, Defi du Seuil (Philip Hobbs) has been the dominant force in Britain’s two-mile division with three straight victories, producing his most impressive performance to date in the G1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot in January.
Irish challenger Chacun Pour Soi (Willie Mullins IRE) took the scalp of Defi de Seuil at the Punchestown Festival in May, on just his third start over fences, and the inexperienced eight-year-old posted a career-best on his latest start when defeating stablemate Min at the Dublin Racing Festival on 2nd February.
A top-notch line up for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase is likely to include Politologue (Paul Nicholls) and Sceau Royal (Alan King), who filled the places behind Altior in last year’s edition, plus fellow G1 victor Dynamite Dollars (Paul Nicholls).
There will be no more popular winner than Tiger Roll, who is going for a hat-trick of wins in the £65,000 Glenfarclas Chase (4.10pm, 23 confirmations). The dual Randox Health Grand National hero made a promising return to action last month in the G2 Boyne Hurdle at Navan, finishing fifth.
French challenger Easysland looks the chief danger after winning his last six starts in cross country chases, including an impressive victory over the course in December. Following that success, the six-year-old was purchased by JP McManus.
Trainer David Cottin said: “Easysland is very well and I have been delighted with his preparation for the Glenfarclas Chase.
“I could not be happier with him and we are looking forward to taking on Tiger Roll – it promises to be a great race.
“Easysland has already won at Cheltenham, which is important, and we are hopeful of another big performance from him.”
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
One of the Irish bankers of The Festival, Envoi Allen (Gordon Elliott IRE), tops 25 confirmations for the £125,000 G1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm, 2m 5f).
Last year’s G1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper victor is unbeaten in seven starts win under Rules, the most recent of those successes coming in a G1 novice hurdle at Naas in January.
Opposition to Envoi Allen is set to be spearheaded by Sporting John (Philip Hobbs) and The Big Breakaway (Colin Tizzard), who are also defending unbeaten records.
Willie Mullins accounts for a third of the 15 remaining entries in the £175,000 G1 RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase (2.10pm, 3m 80y) – Allaho, Castlebawn West, Faugheen, Easy Game and Salsaretta.
Ante-post favourite Champ (Nicky Henderson) is also engaged alongside last season’s G1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle victor Minella Indo (Henry de Bromhead IRE) and Copperhead (Colin Tizzard), a bloodless winner of the G2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot recently.
Completing the G1 action on day two is the G1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (5.30pm, 27 confirmations), in which hot favourite Appreciate It will attempt to give Willie Mullins a 10th victory in the race.
Handicap action is provided by the £100,000 G3 Coral Cup (2.50pm, 2m 5f, 100 confirmations) and the £80,000 G3 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.50pm, 2m 87y, 39 confirmations).
Day two of The Cheltenham Festival 2020 takes place on the Old Course, where conditions remain Soft, with the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase on the Cross Country Course which is currently Soft, Heavy in places.
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