There are only 11 days to go until the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, with punters beginning to make their bets ahead of the four-day meeting.
In our latest edition of the news segment, the team look at two of Paul Nicholls’ chances at the Festival as well as Donald McCain’s sole runner at the four-day meeting.
Here are the Daily News Notes for Friday.
STAGE SET FOR THE BALLYMORE
Paul Nicholls holds high hopes for Stage Star in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, despite the level of Irish talent that is entered in the contest.
The six-year-old has been impressive in his first campaign over obstacles, as he claimed his first Grade 1 success in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury during the festive period.
Speaking to Attheraces, Nicholls talked up his star ahead of his Cheltenham Festival.
“He was a good bumper horse last year and was always going to be a better horse this year. He’s won all three of his novice hurdles and you just wouldn’t know how good he might be,” said the champion trainer.
“He was ready to go to Exeter a fortnight ago, but the ground was so heavy that day and I didn’t want to give him a hard race, so we’ve just kept him nice and fresh.
“He had a piece of work at Wincanton 10 days ago and went very nicely with Monmiral.
“He’s probably one of our best chances of the week, I would say, and whatever happens he’ll be a lovely horse to go chasing next season.”
Stage Star holds a 7/1 price tag for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
PRESENT’S MOMENT IN THE PLATE
Donald McCain is having a season to remember, but the Cholmondeley trainer is only sending one of his stable to the Cheltenham Festival.
Talking to Racing TV, McCain revealed his sole Cheltenham runner for the Festival.
“We’ll have one runner at Cheltenham, I think – Presentandcounting in the Plate (Handicap Chase).
“His owner John Turner is a big supporter of Cheltenham and the horse has had his winter break and is ready to crack on with again.”
Presentandcounting is a 33/1 chance for the Paddy Power Plate currently.
ONE FOR THE BOODLES
Despite only joining Paul Nicholls’ stable in recent weeks, Bell Ex One will be thrown straight into the deep end by the Ditcheat trainer as he holds an entry in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
The gelding is yet to make a start under Nicholls, but his new connections reckon he could well be a surprise contender in the two-mile contest.
Speaking to the Racing Post, Nicholls spoke out on his new recruit’s chances.
“He galloped at Wincanton this [Thursday] morning and went quite nicely but I haven’t run him so I don’t know too much about him.
“He’s rated 130 and is on quite a stiff mark, so we’ve kept him for this. He’s a bit of a dark horse, Harry [Cobden] rode him this morning and liked him.”
Bell Ex One is currently a 20/1 shot for the Boodles.