Captain Cee Bee supplemented for Stan James Champion Hurdle

3.20pm, £418,000 Stan James Champion Hurdle (Grade One), 2m 110y


5th March 2014 – A field of 12 goes forward for the Stan James Champion Hurdle, the highlight on the opening day of The Festival, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 11, after Captain Cee Bee was today supplemented at a cost of £20,000.


The evergreen 13-year-old, a 200/1 chance with Stan James, has run some of his finest races at The Festival, beating Binocular to land the 2008 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and finishing third to Sizing Europe in the 2011 BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase.


Edward Harty’s charge started this season with an impressive five-length success in a Grade Two contest at Tipperary in October and was last seen making the running when a close third to Hurricane Fly (11/4, Willie Mullins) and Our Conor (9/2, Dessie Hughes) in the Irish Champion Hurdle on January 26, beaten two and three-quarter lengths in total.


Captain Cee Bee is one of three contenders for leading owner J P McManus, who is set to also rely on Christmas Hurdle victor My Tent Or Yours (4/1, Nicky Henderson) and four-time Grade One winner Jezki (9/1, Jessica Harrington).


Harty revealed today: “The thinking behind supplementing Captain Cee Bee is that he is in very good form and he ran a blinder in the Irish Champion Hurdle, which was unfortunately after the Stan James Champion Hurdle closed.


“We haven’t even thought about tactics, but his preparation has been very good and if he can repeat his Leopardstown run, he will have a squeak.


“He has won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, was third in the Champion Chase and had an off-day there (2010), but it’s great to going back to Cheltenham with a horse in such good form as he is.”


Willie Mullins has four entries going forward, headed by dual Stan James Champion Hurdle hero Hurricane Fly, who brought his tally of Grade One successes to a record 19 in the Irish Champion Hurdle. The 10-year-old could be joined by the unbeaten Un De Sceaux (16/1) and Thousand Stars (150/1), while Annie Power (8/1) has been left in but is more likely to contest Thursday’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle over three miles.


Hurricane Fly is disputing for favouritism with last year’s emphatic Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle winner The New One (Nigel Twiston-Davies). The pair are priced at 11/4 with sponsor Stan James.


Grade One winners Grumeti (100/1, Alan King), Melodic Rendezvous (20/1, Jeremy Scott) and Ptit Zig (40/1, Paul Nicholls) complete the confirmations.


StanJames Champion Hurdle NRNB EW (1/4 1,2,3): 11/4 The New One, Hurricane Fly; 4/1 My Tent Or Yours; 9/2 Our Conor; 8/1 Annie Power; 9/1 Jezki; 16/1 Un De Sceaux; 20/1 Melodic Rendezvous; 40/1 Ptit Zig; 100/1 Grumeti; 150/1 Thousand Stars; 200/1 Captain Cee Bee


1.30pm, £120,000 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade One), 2m 110y


Ante-post favourite Irving, 5/2 with Sky Bet, heads 29 acceptors for the opening race of The Festival, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. The Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old is set to fly the flag for Britain against a strong Irish challenge, which is likely to feature Vautour, Wicklow Brave and Valseur Lido (all Willie Mullins), plus Gilgamboa (Enda Bolger) and Western Boy (Pat Fahy).




Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Sky Bet bet: 5/2 Irving; 100/30 Vautour; 13/2 Wicklow Brave; 12/1 Faugheen, Vaniteux; 16/1 Gilgamboa, Josses Hill, Valseur Lido, Western Boy; 20/1 Splash of Ginge, The Liquidator; 25/1 Wilde Blue Yonder; 33/1 Cheltenian, Garde La Victoire, Lac Fontana, Lieutenant Colonel, Pearl Castle, Sgt Reckless; 40/1 Renneti, Un Ace; 50/1 Quickpick Vic, Three Kingdoms; 66/1 Germany Calling, Sky Khan, Art of Payroll; 100/1 Fantasy King, Pleasant Company, Vice Et Vertu; 250/1 Aazif


2.05pm, £150,000 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (Grade One), 2m


Champagne Fever (Willie Mullins) is one of four Willie Mullins-trained contenders remaining in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase, which has 18 six-day confirmations. The seven-year-old captured the Weatherbys Champion Bumper in 2011 and followed up in last year’s Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but has only had two starts over fences and has not run since Christmas.


Impressive Irish Arkle victor Trifolium is one of two going forward for fellow Irish handler Charles Byrnes, while the home challenge is headed by 2012 Stan James Champion Hurdle hero Rock On Ruby (Harry Fry), Dodging Bullets (Paul Nicholls) and Valdez (Alan King).


2.40pm, £90,000 Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase (Grade Three), 3m 110y


Golden Chieftain (Colin Tizzard) could go for back-to-back victories in the Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase, the first of 11 ultra-competitive handicaps at The Festival, which has 50 horses going forward.


Also among those engaged are last season’s RSA Chase third Hadrian’s Approach (Nicky Henderson), Grade One-winning novice Annacotty (Martin Keighley) and Irish raider Cause Of Causes (Gordon Elliott).


4.00pm, £85,000 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Grade Two), 2m 4f


Quevega headlines 21 mares remaining for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle as she bids for an unprecedented sixth consecutive success at The Festival. The Willie Mullins-trained star has made the contest her own over the last five years and will be looking to eclipse Golden Miller, who captured five Gold Cups between 1932 and 1936.


Competition could come from stablemates Annie Power and Glens Melody, while John Quinn’s Cockney Sparrow looks to be the leading British contender.


4.40pm, £85,000 Terry Biddlecombe National Hunt Chase (Listed), 4m

Dual Grade Two winner Foxrock (Ted Walsh) and Ballycasey (Willie Mullins), successful in the Grade One Dr P J Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown, feature among 28 horses going forward in the Terry Biddlecombe National Hunt Chase.


Jonjo O’Neill has won the four-mile contest for amateur jockeys five times and the trainer looks set to mount another strong challenge with last year’s Pertemps Network Final winner Holywell and Shutthefrontdoor. Other leading contenders include Betfred Classic Chase victor Shotgun Paddy (Emma Lavelle), Grade Two RSA Novices’ Trial Chase scorer Black Thunder (Paul Nicholls) and Corrin Wood (Donald McCain), who has won his three most recent starts.


5.15pm, £60,000 Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed), 2m 4f 110y

Charlie Longsdon has yet so saddle a winner at The Festival but the Oxfordshire trainer could have a great chance in the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase with dual chase scorer Pendra, one of 54 six-day confirmations for the extended two and a half-mile contest.


Manyriverstocross (Alan King) was runner-up in the Grade One Betfred TV Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park on February 1, while Present View (Jamie Snowden) was the impressive winner of a Kempton Park novices’ chase on February 22. Cause Of Causes (Gordon Elliott) has filled the runner-up spot in valuable handicap chases at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown. Ericht (Nicky Henderson), The Romford Pele (Rebecca Curtis) and Paddy Power Gold Cup fourth Attaglance (Malcolm Jefferson), who won the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at The Festival in 2012, also feature among those still engaged.

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