Sunday 18 February 2018

Marking your card

The major trainers pinpoint their leading players for The Festival as well as a few who are just off the radar

Gordon Elliott
Gordon Elliott
Trainer Nicky Henderson
Trainer Paul Nicholls
Trainer Willie Mullins
Philip Hobbs

The major trainers pinpoint their leading players for The Festival as well as a few who are just off the radar

Gordon Elliott

Trim, County Meath

Wins-runs 2012/13: 71-420

Prize-money: £1,090,883

I'm looking forward to bringing Bayan over for the Coral Cup. The step-up in trip will suit him and we've won the race before. Tiger Roll goes for the JCB Triumph, having finished second on his first run over hurdles at Leopardstown in a Grade One in February. He'll improve for that. I expect more from Don Cossack as the faster gallop and bigger field will suit him better than running round in small fields in Ireland. He'll go for the JLT or RSA Chase.

Nicky Henderson

Upper Lambourn, Berkshire

Wins-runs 2012/13: 127-519

Prize-money: £3,078,076

I have to look to the big boys. Bobs Worth is bidding to take the Betfred Gold Cup again and is in very good form. We got the Lexus in at Leopardstown over Christmas and the timing was great, it gave him time to recover and that was ideal. He's been going well and we're hopeful he can defend his crown. Of course, we are disappointed not to have Sprinter Sacre going for a second Champion Chase but the plan is to have him back at full throttle next season. Everything is great with My Tent Or Yours. He is in fantastic form and he goes for the Champion Hurdle.

Donald McCain

Cholmondeley, Cheshire

Wins-runs: 2012/13 141-734

Prize-money: £992,458

Corrin Wood has been impressive and is three from three over fences. He is in the National Hunt Chase but goes for the RSA as he's well suited by having Jason Maguire on board. Indian Castle won well at Cheltenham last time and the handicapper has been fair, putting him up 5lb to 140, so that gives him the opportunity to run in one of the handicaps, maybe the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir. Beeves could have a chance in the 4m National Hunt Chase. He's a novice with some solid form and he stays extremely well. If the ground dries up he could run a big race.

Willie Mullins

Muine Bheag, County Carlow

Wins-runs 2012/13: 196-646

Prize-money: £3,804,792

Vautour excited us when we first worked him and is three from three for us. He booked his ticket for the Sky Bet Supreme when winning the Deloitte in good style. Hurricane Fly is captain of our team again. He's a superstar and Stan James Champion Hurdle preparation has gone well. He sets the standard. The RSA has been lucky for us – although not last year when Boston Bob fell at the last. Florida Pearl, Cooldine and Rule Supreme won it for us and Ballycasey earned his place in the Dr PJ Moriarty.

Philip Hobbs

Bilbrook, Somerset

Wins-runs 2012/13 68-506

Prize-money £906,146

I'm hopeful for Cheltenian in the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle. He ran well in the Betfair Hurdle, only his fourth time over jumps. He should be suited by returning to Cheltenham, where he won the 2011 Festival Bumper. Balthazar King may have top-weight in the Glenfarclas Cross Country but has a good chance, having won it before. I've been very pleased with his build-up. After his win at Exeter, I'm looking forward to Fingal Bay in the Pertemps Final. He should improve for that run.

Charlie Longsdon

Over Norton, Oxfordshire

Wins-runs 2012/13 54-406

Prize-money £343,229

I'm looking forward to Pendra stepping up in trip on better ground in the Rewards 4 Racing Novices' Handicap Chase. He is a big, backward youngster, but is improving the whole time. Shantou Magic might go for the Martin Pipe Conditionals Hurdle. He could be well handicapped off 137. Spirit Of Shankly is the only horse to have beaten Urban Hymn this season. He may go for the Coral Cup, because I know Noel Fehily will be keen to ride him. A left-handed course will suit him.

Jonjo O'Neill

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Wins-runs 2012/13 90-708

Prize-money £697,147

Taquin Du Seuil will go for the JLT Novices' Chase. He has been gaining experience, learning every time he runs. Shutthefrontdoor has had a minor operation since he ran at Cheltenham in December. He's in the RSA and National Hunt Chase. I'd have liked to have given More Of That another run but he has won first time out and is in grand form. We have to go for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle even though JP McManus also has At Fishers Cross in it as well. Knowing JP, he never minds having a couple of runners in a race at Cheltenham.

Alan King

Barbury Castle, Wiltshire

Wins-runs 2012/13 60-423

Prize-money £1,068,018

We were delighted with Smad Place at Newbury, he jumped well and looks the right sort for the RSA Chase. We are looking forward to running him as he has been crying out for this trip over fences and the ground doesn't really matter with him. I'm hopeful for Valdez in the Racing Post Arkle if we get decent ground – touch wood, his jumping has been very good and that could prove an asset in such a competitive field. I was pleased with his latest win at Doncaster when our horses were only just starting back, so there's improvement to come.

Paul Nicholls

Ditcheat, Somerset

Wins-runs 2012/13: 134-570

Prize-money: £2,557,668

We've been very happy with Silviniaco Conti since he won the King George VI Chase. He's in good order and we're looking forward to the Betfred Gold Cup.

Big Buck's has come out well from his comeback at Cheltenham and we are very happy with him. It would really be something to win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle for a fifth time. I'm also very hopeful for Irving in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle. He's won three from three and we're very much looking forward to running him.

David Pipe

Nicholashayne, Devon

Wins-runs 2012/13: 105-628

Prize-money: £1,184,694

Dynaste was disappointing in the King George, but he'll bounce back. It was a very encouraging run first time out in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and he'll have a chance whichever race he runs in. He could go for the Ryanair or the Gold Cup.

I'm looking forward to Red Sherlock. He is in the Neptune and Albert Bartlett and must have a good chance. Vieux Lion Rouge is another whose target is not certain, but has also done nothing wrong. He has won two small races and will either have another quick run to qualify for handicaps or go for the Neptune.

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