Big guns in Championship races

  • Last Updated: February 12 2014, 15:08 GMT

All the principal contenders for the five Championship races at the Cheltenham Festival have stood their ground at the latest forfeit stage.

Annie Power: Still has two options at the Festival
Annie Power: Still has two options at the Festival

The Stan James Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the four-day extravaganza has 11 entries going forward.

Her Festival target is yet to be confirmed, however Annie Power is a notable name amongst the field.

Her stablemate - and defending champion - Hurricane Fly could yet be joined by Un De Sceaux and Thousand Stars and he was trimmed into clear 11/4 favourite with Sky Bet following the news.

Other Irish entries unsurprisingly include Our Conor and Jezki.

The home challenge is led by The New One and My Tent Or Yours, with Cinders And Ashes and the novice chaser Grandouet the most notable of seven entries who have been scratched.

Annie Power's other potential appearance in Gloucestershire next month is the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, where she also features among 24 entries.

Sky Bet's 7/4 favourite Big Buck's is present, as are rivals At Fishers Cross and Boston Bob, whilst More Of That also remains in the hunt.

There were 11 horses scratched at this stage including Smad Place who has twice been placed in the race, but is enjoying a season over fences.

Annie Power also has the option of the Mares' Hurdle but connections have suggested that she will not run in that contest unless there are problems with her stablemate Quevega who is set to bid for a record sixth win in the race.

The Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup sees 26 entries still vying for their place in the blue riband event, led by defending champion Bobs Worth who is 2/1 with Sky Bet.

Big names like Cue Card, Last Instalment and Silviniaco Conti all stand their ground, after 10 scratchings included, as expected, Rubi Ball, Tidal Bay and Al Ferof.

The BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase has 17 entries, including Sky Bet's 4/6 market leader Sprinter Sacre whose season has so far not gone to plan.

Old rival Sizing Europe remains along with new pretender Sire De Grugy and the interesting second-season novice chaser Hinterland, who is also prominent in the betting for the Arkle.

The most notable horses to be scratched include Dodging Bullets and Hidden Cyclone.

Lastly, the Ryanair Chase has a larger raft of entries remaining, with 39 left at the latest stage.

Reigning champion Cue Card, 3/1 favourite with Sky Bet, is joined by Al Ferof and Dynaste amongst others, whilst Last Instalment is another who also has this race as a viable alternative to the Gold Cup.

Amongst those scratched is the novice chaser Wonderful Charm.


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