National Hunt Chase 2022: 16 stayers entered for day one finale
Gordon Elliott's Run Wild Fred and the Willie Mullins-trained Stattler feature among 16 entries received for the National Hunt Chase, which is the final race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival on March 15...
Runner-up in the Irish Grand National last season, Run Wild Fred showed his class over a lengthy trip when he romped to victory in the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan earlier in the season. Last seen finishing second behind stablemate Fury Road in the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown in December, Run Wild Fred will now step up in trip as he bids for only his second chase win in 11 starts over the larger obstacles.
On the contrary, Stattler, who finished fourth in last year's Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, has made a perfect start to his novice chasing career, as wins at Fairyhouse and Naas have been the catalyst for him launching to the head of the betting for the 3m 6f contest, which concludes Champion Hurdle day.
A runaway 11-length winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at last season's Cheltenham Festival, Gavin Cromwell's Vanillier will now attempt to claim festival glory over fences, but he was well beaten by Stattler at Naas last time out, so will need to improve significantly to turn that Irish form around.
While the Elliott first string in Run Wild Fred could be his premier challenger, the Cullentra House has some equally smart entries and the top class Fury Road features among here, but he could veer down the shorter route and a crack at Bravemansgame in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase next Wednesday, while the Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase winner Farouk D'Alene and Braeside add more depth to the Elliott charge.
Last seen chasing home the aforementioned Bravemangame in a quality novices' handicap chase at Newbury, the Rebecca Curtis-trained Pats Fancy is a fascinating entry in this event, as he has shaped every bit like a real dour stayer and he could be one of those British-trained runners that can lay a glove on the Irish.
Paul Nicholls has kept the classy Threeunderthrufive in the National Hunt Chase entries, but the Ditcheat inmate could be Brown Advisory bound and may not be seen in this event. The unbeaten Jungle Boogie could add significant strength in depth to the Willie Mullins charge for this event, while the Closutton handler could also saddle Ontheropes, who was last seen finishing a creditable fifth in the Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran Park.
Leading Ultima Handicap Chase contender Does He Know is another worth mentioning for the Tuesday finale, but he's likely to veer towards the handicap event towards the start of the afternoon, as we are set fair for a wide open renewal of the National Hunt Chase, which brings the curtain down on day one of the meeting.