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The Mandarin’s Cheltenham Racecard for Thursday 14th March 2024

The Mandarin’s Cheltenham Racecard for Thursday 14th March

Turners Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 1.30
Grey Dawning
The home team can get off to a winning start on Thursday with Grey Dawning, lining up for the Skelton team. The grey won a Grade 2 Hurdle at Warwick last year and has wasted no time in rising through the novice chasing ranks, winning a Class 2 contest at Haydock Park before scoring at Grade 2 level back at Warwick. That was a particularly impressive run to relegate the useful Apple Away to a 14 length runners-up spot, and there’s more to come. Paul Nicholls sends out Ginny’s Destiny, who has form over Grey Dawning from their clash here in December, but meet on level terms this time, while Irish hopes lie with Facile Vega, who looks smart but is prone to the occasional error. With the unexposed Iroko also in the mix, it’s a cracking opener with Grey Dawning the one to follow

Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) 2.10
Cleatus Poolaw
In a typically hot handicap final, the well weighted Cleatus Poolaw makes most appeal. Gordon Elliott’s six year old has got better with every run this term, and showed last time out at Naas that he’ll see out this trip when chasing home Noble Birth. There’s plenty of likely types, not least Willie Mullins’s Icare Allen, Nigel Twiston-Davies’s hat-trick seeking Cuthbert Dibble and Alan King’s Emitom, fourth in the Stayers Hurdle here in 2020. Cleatus Poolaw to take another step forward for a yard with a good record in this contest

Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) 2.50
Envoi Allen (nap)
Last year’s winner has been aimed at this race for a fourth Festival success, and after serving it up to favourite Shiskin in 2023 has to top the shortlist. With Henry de Bromhead’s yard in fine fettle, and Envoi Allen giving a real scare to Gerri Colombe in Down Royal’s Champion Chase back in November, he looks well teed up to defend the crown. Joseph O’Brien’s Banbridge is smart, but might just need better ground, so Paul Nicholls’s 2023 Festival winner Stage Star rates the main threat, and it’s easy to put a line through the no-show here on New Year’s Day. Willie Mullins’s Capodanno has more wins in him over fences, but Envoi Allen is the one to beat

Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3.30
Teahupoo (nb)
This race has been the season’s aim for Gordon Elliott’s high class hurdler, and with an impeccable record fresh, has been wrapped up for this since taking the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse. That said, home hope Crambo keeps surprising everyone, and had real quality in behind him when landing the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, including Paisley Park and Dashel Drasher. Dual previous winner of this, Flooring Porter and Willie Mullins’s Sir Gerhard add real depth to this field, but Teahuppo is the one they will all have to beat

TrustATrader Plate Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) 4.10
Saint Felicien
It what should be a great day for Gordon Elliott, Saint Felicien can score in this Premier Handicap. He’s progressed in Beginners’ chases this season, finally get his head in front at Gowran Park at the fourth time of asking, and looks well treated from this mark. Ben Pauling is having a fine time of it since the move to his larger yard, so New Year’s Day scorer, Shakem Up’arry has to enter calculations, while top weight James Du Berlais hails from the in-form Closutton yard that is sending out winners for fun this week. Saint Felicien to win it for the Irish

Ryanair Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 4.50
Jade De Grugy
The raiding party seem to have this Mares’ Hurdle sewn up with Jade De Grugy and Brighterdaysahead both lining up for this Grade 2. Both have been progressive this season and made smooth headway into Graded company, but the preference is for Willie Mullins’s Jade De Grugy, who was particularly impressive when she scored at Fairyhouse in January. That said, Brighterdaysahead remains unbeaten after two Bumpers and three starts over timber, and is there to be shot down. Fascinating to see who will come out on top

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase 5.30
Where It All Began
It’s going to be a bit of a slog over 26 furlongs here, and a chance is taken on Where It All Began. Gordon Elliott’s gelding won’t be lacking for stamina after a 16 length win in the Listed Grand National Trial at Punchestown, and remains unexposed over these extreme trips. Inothewayurthinkin has gathered plenty of support in the ante-post markets, and with placed form at Graded level has to be on the shortlist, while last year’s winner, Angels Dawn knows her way round here so is also in the mix. Where It All Began to see out the marathon trip and finish a great day for the Cullentra yard

The Mandarin

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