Festival options for Cantlow

  • Last Updated: February 21 2013, 14:00 GMT

Cantlow features among the possibles for the JLT Specialty Chase and the Byrne Group Plate as the handicap entries for the Cheltenham Festival have been revealed.

Cantlow: Handicaps the plan
Cantlow: Handicaps the plan

Paul Webber has made multiple entries for the eight-year-old with Cantlow also entered in the two-mile Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase along with the three-mile and two-mile-five-furlong heats.

He has won two of his four starts to date over fences, claiming novice events at Plumpton and Taunton on his two most recent outings.

Cantlow bypassed an intended run at Ascot last week and Webber is happy to tackle experienced opposition next time, rather than stick to novice level.

"He's absolutely fine, we just decided to give Ascot a miss last weekend as we didn't want him to have a hard race on heavy ground," said the Banbury handler.

"He's had a freshening couple of days and he's in four handicaps at Cheltenham - we've taken him out of the three novices' conditions races.

"We won't decide until much nearer the time which race he will run in. We will have to see how the fields shape up and what else (owner) JP McManus has to run.

"I would imagine the two-mile-five-furlong race (Byrne Group Plate) would come into the picture but we are some way off a decision.

"He's off a mark of 143 so if we were to go for one of the novice races, he could be a stone wrong with some of them, so the handicaps could be a better option.

"His jumping is pretty good and he will have hopefully have his ground as he's not had it all season.

"We have been running him over shorter distances as the ground has been so testing and we didn't want to bottom him.

"It seems to be coming better now - it's amazing how much it has improved in the last three days."

Ninety-five horses have been entered for the JLT Specialty Chase, including the first seven home last year - winner Alfie Sherrin, who is also owned by McManus, Fruity O'Rooney, Our Mick, The Package, Billie Magern, Magnanimity and Quantitativeeasing.

McManus' new recruit Wyck Hill, who is favourite for Saturday's Racing Plus Chase at Kempton, is also in the mix.

The Byrne Group Plate has a massive 102 contenders at this stage, with one-time Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Hunt Ball an intended starter.

The likes of Alderwood, Colour Squadron and Tap Night could be in opposition.

Ulck Du Lin heads the market for the Grand Annual, with 71 horses under consideration at present.

Eighty-six possible runners have been entered for the Pulteney Land Investments Novices' Chase, which was won in fine style by Hunt Ball last year.

Dessie Hughes' White Star Line was second that day and he could have another crack at glory.

Enda Bolger has a typically strong hand among 45 entries for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase.

Arabella Boy, Doctor Pat, Drawn N Drank and Freneys Well feature for Bolger, while last year's victor Balthazar King could head the home defence for Philip Hobbs.

Ante-post favourite Wonderful Charm tops 166 nominations for the Coral Cup, with other leading fancies Oscara Dara and Gevrey Chambertin in the field.

The latter, trained by David Pipe, is also in the field for the Pertemps Final, in which 94 horses have been entered.

Mr Mole heads most ante-post markets for the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle and he is are among 121 entries.

Betfair Hurdle second Cotton Mill also features along with third-placed Swing Bowler and fifth Petit Robin, but Dark Lover is a notable omission.

Sixty-three horses have been put in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, while 105 are entered in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup for amateurs.

There are 197 entered in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, with a record 1,145 contenders in total for all the 11 handicaps.

Weights for the races next Wednesday.


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