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CHELTENHAM DAILY NEWS NOTES | Thursday 24th February

The Cheltenham.co.uk team dig out all the big stories you need to know for the Festival

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The excitement for the 2022 Cheltenham Festival is continuing to build, with less than three weeks remaining until the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ gets underway.

In our latest edition of the news segment, the team highlight a surprise entry on a former King George winner, an interesting change of target for a Willie Mullins star and an underdog’s shot of glory in the Champion Hurdle.

Here are the Daily News Notes for Thursday.

FRODON’S UNEXPECTED ULTIMA-TUM

Trainer Paul Nicholls has thrown a huge curveball in terms of Frodon’s Cheltenham appearance, as the 2020 King George winner has been given a surprise entry for the Ultima Handicap Chase.

The three-time Grade 1 winner already has five Festival appearances under his belt, with his sole success at the four-day event coming in the Ryanair Chase back in 2019.

The 10-year-old was a surprise absentee from the Gold Cup entries back in January and connections have opted to go down a different route if he is to race at Prestbury Park.

Speaking to the Racing Post, Nicholls highlighted the reasons for his recruit’s entry in the 3m1f Handicap Chase.

Horse trainer Paul Nicholls at Hereford Racecourse Supreme
Paul Nicholls stunned punters with Frodon’s surprise entry in the Ultima

“I was just looking through the cards on Sunday evening and thought let’s just stick him in and have a look.”

“It’s three weeks away still and he’s on the same mark he won a handicap off at the track last season. I felt it might be easier putting him in a handicap at this stage than running in the Gold Cup.

“It doesn’t mean he will definitely run but we’ll see. If we were happy he was 100 per cent fit and well and the ground was right then he could run, he’s not in there just as a placeholder.”

Frodon is currently a best-priced 14/1 shot to land success in the Ultima.

GALOPIN’S U-TURN

Willie Mullins has kept punters on their toes once again, as he announced his preference of destination for Galopin Des Champs at Cheltenham.

The promising novice chaser had been touted up for the three-mile Brown Advisory, but the Closutton trainer hinted that he could well feature in the two-and-a-half mile Turners Novices’ Chase.

Speaking to the press yesterday, Mullins discussed his recruit’s possible destination in three weeks’ time.

“He could go in either race and I want to chat with Paul, but I’d be happy enough I think to go in the Turners over two and a half. I think he has the ability to do that, he jumps well and he’s sharp.

Trainer Willie Mullins after Turban won the Underwriting Exchange Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Steeplechase at Fairyhouse Racecourse, Ratoath, Ireland.
Mullins is targeting the Turners Novices’ Chase for Galopin Des Champs

“I try to pick the right race for our horses rather than worrying about the opposition. I think that’s the right way to do it.

“There’s no decision yet, but at the moment I’d be favouring the shorter race.”

Galopin Des Champs is a 5/4 joint-favourite for the Turners Novices’ Chase currently.

TOMMY’S BID FOR A CHELTENHAM OSCAR

Tommy’s Oscar will battle it out with the big guns in the Champion Hurdle, as owner Ian Hamilton has declared they will likely skip the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso and head straight to Cheltenham in March.

The seven-year-old has shown promise this year, claiming success on his last four starts for his connections including a Grade 2 success in The New One Hurdle at Haydock in January.

Speaking to Sky Sports Racing, owner Ian believes Cheltenham is the preferred destination at this stage.

“We have found out that two miles is his trip. That is why he had seven runs in point-to-points before he won – he didn’t stay.

“Brian (Hughes) said, ‘You have got to have a go this year, as you don’t know what will happen in another year, do you?”‘

“I don’t think we have a chance of beating Honeysuckle, unless something happens to her, which hopefully it won’t.”

“But at the minute, we think we will be going to Cheltenham.”

Tommy’s Oscar is currently a 25/1 shot for the Champion Hurdle.

Reece Charlton is a Content Writer at Low6 that specializes in horse racing. He is an avid hunter of value in the racing world, picking out longshots six days a week across the National Hunt and Flat cards on offer across the UK and Ireland. He keeps punters and race fans in the know with his racing expertise with previews and value picks for all the big cards and meetings.