Record Festival handicap entries

  • Last Updated: February 27 2013, 12:07 GMT

There are a record number of entries for the 11 handicaps at this year's Cheltenham Festival and - following the announcement of the weights - connections will be finalising targets for their contenders with multiple engagements.

Uncle Junior (left) is one of a strong Willie Mullins team

Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins boasts a formidable team for the Festival and he accounts for the joint or sole top-weight in five of the 11 handicaps including Uncle Junior in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.

Following his victory in the Racing Plus Chase on Saturday, Opening Batsman would have to shoulder 12st 6lb if he was to take up his engagement in the Pulteney Land Investments Novices' Handicap Chase or 12st 1lb if running in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase.

The David Pipe-trained Ballynagour, a facile winner on his British debut at Warwick, has a new rating of 143 over fences, 21lb higher than his previous one, and has six entries in total.

His Festival options are the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase, in which he has 11 stone, Coral Cup (10st 11lb), Byrne Group Plate (10st 7lb), Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle (10st 10lb), Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (11st 10lb) and Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (10st 7lb).

Meanwhile, it will take a high weight to be one of the 24 to make the cut for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle with 37 entries on 11st 6lb or above.


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