Fishers casts net wide

  • Last Updated: January 31 2013, 16:04 GMT

At Fishers Cross numbers among a huge initial entry for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

At Fishers Cross: Could step back up in trip in March
At Fishers Cross: Could step back up in trip in March

Many of the 107 horses entered have alternative engagements at the Festival and Rebecca Curtis' charge is no different.

The winner of a three mile handicap hurdle at Cheltenham in December, the six year old successfully dropped back in trip when beating The New One in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle back in Gloucestershire on trials day but Curtis has named this three-mile contest as the most likely target for the JP McManus-owned gelding.

Willie Mullins has yet to lift this prize but he usually has a strong hand in the contest and that should be the case once again with the County Carlow handler responsible for 11 entries.

Among them are recent Leopardstown winner Pont Alexandre, Ballycasey and last year's Weatherbys Champion Bumper winner Champagne Fever.

Jonjo O'Neill has won the contest with Wichita Lineman and Black Jack Ketchum and the master of Jackdaws Castle has put together another strong team featuring Taquin Du Seuil, the unbeaten Cloudy Copper, Tominator and Shutthefrontdoor.

O'Neill confirmed that Taquin Du Seuil will not run again before the Cheltenham Festival though connections are in no hurry to decide which race he will run in.

The Challow Hurdle winner also holds an entry in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs.

O'Neill believes the six-year-old does not need another run as he has had plenty of experience already and he is looking forward to the French import running on better ground than the soft conditions he has raced on so far in his career.

"We've entered him in the two-and-a-half and the three-miler. He'll run in one of them," O'Neill told At The Races.

"We will try to find the best one and go there. He's in good form and won't run until Cheltenham now because he's done his running.

"He's got enough experience, he jumps well and does everything right, so let's hope all goes well on the day.

"He's only run on the really soft ground. He works well on good ground at home, so I don't envisage any problems on that score."

Tominator is not the only former smart Flat performer featured with John Ferguson handing entries to Darley Sun and Zuider Zee while dual Cesarewitch winner Aaim To Prosper could represent Paul Nicholls.

Hold On Julio was second to Cloudy Copper at Kempton on his first run over hurdles since 2008 and trainer Alan King has enjoyed success with a similar type in this race having won the 2008 renewal with the useful chaser Nenuphar Collonges.

Another chaser that could revert to timber is Brian Ellison's stout-stayer Neptune Equester while Coneygree, Gevrey Chambertin and Corrin Wood are among other notable entries.

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