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The Mandarin’s Cheltenham Festival Racecard for Wednesday 13th March 2024

The Mandarin’s Cheltenham Festival Racecard for Wednesday 13th March

Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 1.30
Sure to be most punters’ Banker for Wednesday, Willie Mullins can get off to a flyer with Ballyburn. Having won a Maiden hurdle at Leopardstown by a distance, there’s no concerns over this extended trip, so the decision by the Closutton team to steer wide of the Supreme Novices’ to line up here looks the better option. Stablemate Ile Atlantique was just edged out by Readin Tommy Wrong in the Lawlor’s Of Naas, so also brings solid Grade 1 form to this contest, and may chase Ballyburn home. It’s a sign of the Irish dominance that Ben Pauling’s Handstands is the top British runner in the ante-post markets at around 12/1, with Willie Mullins seeming to hold all the aces. Ballyburn is top class and should be winning this

Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2.10
Fact To File (nap)
It was notable that after chasing home A Dream To Share in the Champion Bumper at last year’s Festival, Fact To File was sent over fences from the start of this campaign. That confidence in his ability seems to be paying off, and having given Gaelic Warrior a roasting in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Novice Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival, looks to add more Grade 1 honours here. Stay Away Fay ventured into open company last time out, so the return to a Novice Chase leaves less on his plate, and these are the one-two

Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) 2.50
Built By Ballymore
A red-hot renewal of this big field handicap, where there are plenty of likely types. The chance is taken on Martin Brassil’s Built By Ballymore, who should relish this ground after Tuesday’s heavy rain. He lines up here on a hat-trick after wins at Limerick and Punchestown, and has been laid out for this race since that last outing in January. Last year’s winner, Langer Dan, hasn’t seemed quite the same force this season, but it’s dangerous to write off any Skelton runner in these big handicaps, while Doddiethegreat comes from a Seven Barrows yard struggling for form. Willie Mullins has Sa Majeste who looks on a generous mark, but Built By Ballymore gets a tentative vote

Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) 3.30
El Fabiolo (nb)
It’s very hard to go against the appeal of El Fabiolo for the feature, and Jonbon may just have to settle for the runners-up spot behind him once again. The one-two from last year’s Arkle now clash again in this Champion Chase, and Jonbon has 5 lengths to find on the jolly. That said, this saturated ground could play into Edwardstone’s hands, so he also enters the equation for Alan King. Captain Guinness makes up the third of the three to chase El Fabiolo home, and a race ripe for a tricast

Glenfarclas Chase (Cross Country Chase) 4.10
Really likeable type that has a solid Festival record, and although he couldn’t stay with Delta Work in this race last year, gets another chance to get upsides of his stablemate. Grand National seventh, Foxy Jacks, won over this course and distance at the November Festival, and would probably benefit if the race is moved to Friday’s card after the morning inspection, though he does have the odd jumping error. Minella Indo and Delta Work are both 11 now, so younger legs may get the better of this pair, so Galvin gets the nudge

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) 4.50
Saint Roi
Horses for courses here with Saint Roi having an enviable record at Prestbury Park. He won the County Handicap Hurdle in 2020, was fourth in the Champion Hurdle in 2022 and then was a fine third in the Arkle behind El Fabiolo and Jonbon last year. Dropped back into handicap company for this year’s Festival campaign, and every chance from this mark. Saint Roi to win again at Cheltenham and keep the Willie Mullins steamroller on track

Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race) (Grade 1) 5.30
You Oughta Know
The raiding party have utterly dominated this event in recent years, so it’s safe to assume the winner will be flying the Irish flag once more. It’s a pretty open event too, but You Oughta Know looks the pick of the Willie Mullins runners along with the exciting Jasmin De Vaux. Paul Townend mounts Cantico, so he’s on the shortlist too, while Gordon Elliott has Jalon D’oudairies the pick of the Cullentra yard with Jack Kennedy up top. You Oughta Know to round off another good day for Willie Mullins

The Mandarin

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