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Horse Racing

Cheltenham Festival Winners Line up for New Years Card

Thursday 31st December 2009

The 2010 season at Prestbury Park opens up on New Years day with a number of previous winners taking their chance on the card. There is a very disappointing turnout for the Freedom Hurdle (3.20pm) over an extended two and a half miles. Mr Thriller, trained by David Pipe, has won both his starts this season, most recently coming with a storming late run to defeat Starluck at Haydock last month and is a hugely promising four-year-old. His two opponents tomorrow are the 2008 Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle victor Katchit and Sentry Duty, winner of the valuable Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle at Ascot last season

There is really interesting race for the Grade Two Dipper Novices’ Chase over two miles and five furlongs, headed by last season’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle runner-up Punchestowns, a facile victor on his chasing debut at Newbury last month. The RSA Chase is the target for Punchestown and The Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old faces some strong opposition in Knockara Beau, winner of three of his four starts over fences, the David Pipe-trained Seven Is My Number who scored comfortably at Sandown last time out, Bensalem, a high-class novice hurdler last season and a winner over fences at Plumpton, and Pigeon Island, who has finished runner-up on his last two starts in novice chases at Cheltenham.

A field of 17 is set to go to post for the victorchandler.com Handicap Chase (2.10pm) over two miles and five furlongs with the weights headed by the Paul Nicholls-trained Chapoturgeon, successful in the Listed Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase at The Festival last season and fourth on his latest appearance in the Boylesports.com Gold Cup on December 12. The champion trainer is also represented by Tatenen, a Grade Two scorer at The Open in 2008.

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