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The Mandarin’s Cheltenham Festival Racecard for Tuesday 12th March 2024

The Mandarin’s Cheltenham Festival Racecard for Tuesday 12th March

Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 1.30
Mystical Power
Irish dominance at this Year’s Festival begins here, where the first four in the betting are raiders from across the Irish Sea. The opener can go to Willie Mullins with Mystical Power, chiefly at the expense of stablemate Tullyhill. Mystical Power is bred in the purple, a Galileo gelding out of the brilliant mare, Annie Power, and looks the spitting image of his mother. He bolted up in the Moscow Flyer to book his place here, showing plenty of toe to leave the field trailing behind. With the hugely exciting Slade Steel also lining up, this is Ireland’s race, with Nicky Henderson’s Jeriko Du Reponet the main home hope, though stable form at Seven Barrows is a concern. Mystical Power to use his turn of foot to power up the stiff finish and get Willie Mullins off to a flying start, with Slade Steel and Tullyhill left to chase him home

My Pension Expert Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2.10
Gaelic Warrior
There was clearly something amiss with Gaelic Warrior when unseating Paul Townend at the last in the Ladbrokes Novice Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, but he’s given another chance. He has a fine record around here, runner-up in the Fred Winter in 2022, and second again last year in the Ballymore, but the drop back to 2 miles is interesting to say the least. If he’s not sharp enough for this bare minimum trip, stablemates Il Etait Temps and Hunters Yarn could benefit. Another Closutton procession on the cards, with a tentative vote for Gaelic Warrior sporting a first time hood

Ultima Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) 2.50
He seemed to find plenty when landing the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival, so Meetingofthewaters should relish this contest with the emphasis on stamina. Easy to excuse his last run back at Leopardstown when hampered and unseating Brian Hayes at the first, but having been snapped up by JP McManus now gets Mark Walsh taking up the reins. Fellow Irish raider Stumptown was runner-up in the Kim Muir last year, before going one better on the New Course on New Year’s Day, so looks to have been laid out for this race by Gavin Cromwell. More Irish success on the cards here, with Meetingofthewaters marginally preferred, and Stumptown and last year’s fourth, The Goffer to fill the minor places

Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1) 3.30
State Man
In the absence of defending Champion Constitution Hill, this should be going to State Man, runner-up in this last year. That said, the highly progressive Irish Point is a smart hurdler, and State Man cannot afford any mistakes, but with successive wins in the Morgiana, the Matheson and the Irish Champion Hurdle last time out, every chance that he’ll bag a fourth Grade One in a so far perfect season. Very hard to oppose, with the bookies taking no chances

Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 4.10
Lossiemouth (nap)
Lossiemouth, the outstanding Juvenile at last year’s Festival will be a short order favourite to takes this Mares’ Hurdle. She won the Triumph here last year with plenty in hand, and with a brilliant win back here in the International Hurdle in January, has been laid out for this race since then. More to come, and yet another one out of the top drawer for the imperious Closutton stable

Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) 4.50
A chance is taken on Paul Nicholls’s Liari, who was a comfortable winner in a Listed contest at Musselburgh last month. He acts on any ground, and it’s quite possible that Liari and Harry Cobden can defy top-weight and bring a home success to the first day of the Festival. Irish raider Lark In The Mornin has been edging favouritism in the ante-post markets, and does look to be lining up on a lenient mark, while Gordon Elliott’s Ndaawi and Willie Mullins’s Miss Manzor and Karia Des Blaises also make each-way appeal. Liari to go close with solid each-way claims at the least

Maureen Mullins National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) 5.30
Corbetts Cross (nb)
The closer can go to the Irish, who look to have this race sewn up with Embassy Gardens and Corbetts Cross heading the ante-post markets. The selection deserves a better slice of luck here at Prestbury Park, having run out when closing in on Stay Away Fay at the last, and this could be his chance with Derek O’Connor on the reins. Of course, there’s every chance that Willie Mullins could be signing off with yet another win with Embassy Gardens, who hasn’t put a foot wrong in both starts this term, but Corbetts Cross gets the nudge

The Mandarin

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