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Emery gets chance in Champion


Cilaos Emery will bid for the Champion Hurdle title at Cheltenham

Cilaos Emery will bid for the Champion Hurdle title at Cheltenham

Cilaos Emery will bid for the Champion Hurdle title at Cheltenham

Cilaos Emery was the only horse supplemented at the six-day confirmation stage for the Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

Trainer Willie Mullins opted to add the eight-year-old to the field, after Cilaos Emery staked his claim for honours with an easy victory in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran last month.

It was his first run over hurdles for more than two years, after being campaigned over fences.

Mullins also has Sharjah among the 19 horses in contention for the Festival's first-day showpiece.

Ante-post favourite Epatante remains on course. Trainer Nicky Henderson revealed a minor coughing scare with the Christmas Hurdle winner, but was confident she would make the race.

The JP McManus-owned mare is among five probables for the Seven Barrows trainer, who is seeking an eighth win in the two-mile championship.

His other hopefuls are last year's Triumph Hurdle victor Pentland Hills, Call Me Lord, Fusil Raffles and Verdana Blue.

Henry de Bromhead has left in Irish Champion Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle, though she has been earmarked for the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle on the same card instead.

Darver Star and Petit Mouchoir, who were second and third respectively to Honeysuckle at Leopardstown, stand their ground.

Evan Williams' Silver Streak is set to try again after finishing third at odds of 80-1 last year, while Micky Hammond's surprise Fighting Fifth Hurdle victor Cornerstone Lad is another in the mix.

Completing the list are Ballyandy, Coeur Sublime, Darasso, Gumball, Le Patriote, Not So Sleepy and Supasundae.

Meanwhile, Charlie Fellowes' globetrotting stable star Prince Of Arran will continue on his travels later this month with a third outing in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan.

Last year's Melbourne Cup runner-up made an encouraging return to action on Saturday, when finishing third in the inaugural Longines Turf Handicap at Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

While Prince Of Arran has failed to figure in the last two renewals of the Group Two prize, which forms part of the Dubai World Cup undercard on March 28, the Newmarket handler is confident he will be hard to keep out of the frame.

"Saturday's race probably suited horses that were a bit further back and we probably used up a bit more petrol in the first three furlongs of the race," said Fellowes, "but that is just picking at straws. I was really happy with the run.

"I'd say he will head back out to Meydan for the Dubai Gold Cup again. He likes Meydan as he has won out there and this is where the global journey began.

"It has been a bogey race for him - two years ago he had far too much ground to make up, then last year he was really sick afterwards, so we have got unfinished business out there."