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Thursday, January 24, 2013





The entries are revealed today for the four novice chases staged at The Festival from Tuesday, March 12, to Friday, March 15.

            The Grade One Racing Post Arkle CHASE, run over two miles, promises to be one of the races of The Festival with Simonsig, who won last year’s Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, and the 2012 Stan James Champion Hurdle runner-up Overturn among the 33 entries. Ireland’s big hope Arvika Ligeonniere is also engaged.

            As well as Simonsig, Nicky Henderson has also entered Captain Conan in the Racing Post Arkle Chase but has indicated a desire to run him in the Grade Two Jewson Novices’ Chase on Thursday, March 14, over a half-mile further. The strapping six-year-old, who is two from two over fences, heads 65 entries for the Grade Two contest.

            Dynaste has made a perfect start to his chasing career for trainer David Pipe with impressive victories at Cheltenham, Newbury and Kempton Park. He headlines 49 entries for the Grade One RSA Chase over three miles on Wednesday, March 14, but a strong Irish challenge includes Back In Focus and Boston Bob.

            Tom Taaffe’s Argocat holds an entry in all three races after an eye-catching eight-length success in the Grade Two Greenmount Park Novice Chase over two and a half miles at Limerick on December 26.

            Taaffe said on Wednesday: “The preference for Argocat at the moment is the Jewson over two and a half miles. He won’t run again before Cheltenham but he has been in super form since his win at Limerick. He had a mid-term break and is back in full swing now.

            “He did what he had to do at Limerick and was in receipt of the four-year-old weight allowance. He is progressive and has done nothing but please us since he has gone over fences.

            “I started schooling him in April last year and he jumped so well that I said that we are better off going over fences than sticking to hurdles.

            “Better ground will definitely help him a lot and that’s why I have entered him in the two other races.”

            The longest race at The Festival is the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase over four miles. The contest, restricted to amateur riders, has received 85 entries and takes place on the Wednesday, March 13.

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