The Cheltenham Festival is the Olympics for horse racing and the pinnacle of the jumping racing season, when the best of the sport will be on display.
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Racing at the Festival is of the highest quality, and behind this prestigious sporting event is the training of star horses, a profession that requires great skill and dedication.
Three Scotland-based training facilities including Harriet Graham & Gary Rutherford, Sandy Thomson and Lucinda Russell are looking to find success during the festival week.
Graham & Rutherford, based in Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, are looking forward to facing the final Burtemps Handicap chase on Thursday 16th March with Brandi McQueen.
The pair are the first joint license holders in Scotland, having obtained their license on 30 January 2022. Brandi McQueen has won two of his last three starts, both at Musselburgh Racecourse.
Sandy Thompson, based near Kelso, aims to hold both the Coral Cup hurdle on Wednesday 15th March and a Martin Pipe conditional hurdle race for the jockeys on Friday 17th March during the festival.
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Benson will contest the Coral Cup on Wednesday, March 15th, and on Thursday, March 16th, Bass Rock will run in the Magners Plate Handicap Chase.
The Hill Sixteen will take on the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockey’s Handicap Chase on Thursday, March 16th.
Prior to his racing career, Thompson had a successful rugby career, even winning the Scottish Championship with Kelso in 1984.
Renowned trainer Lucinda Russell OBE, is Scotland’s leading jumping coach, having trained over 800 winners over her career.
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Korach Rambler won the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2022, and Brindisi Breeze won the Albert Bartlett Novice Stakes in 2012, his first training success at the Russell Festival.
During the 2017 Aintree Grand National she had success with One For Arthur, and then later in 2021 during the Ayr Scottish Grand National Russell was winner with Mighty Thunder.
Russell runs her yard with partner Peter Scudamore MBE, a retired eight-time champion jockey. Russell will host runners each day during the festival.
Among the main contenders is Korach Rambler who will contest the Ultima Handicap Chase on Tuesday 14 March, which he won last year.
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Ahoy Senor is targeting the Cheltenham Poodles Gold Cup Chase on Friday 17 March (3.30pm), the festival’s signature race which will be broadcast live on ITV Racing.
Last year Ahoy Senor finished second to L’Homme Press, trained by Venetia Williams in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, so Ahoy Senor will be one to watch.
Main Scottish rulers:
Tuesday 14 March
2:50 Ultima Handicap Chase (1st Handicap) Korach Rambler – Trained by Lucinda Russell (Odds 15/2)
Wednesday, March 15th
1:30 Ballymore Beginner’s Hurdle (Grade 1) Serious Client – Trained by Lucinda Russell (Odds 200/1)
2:50 Coral Cup Handicap (1st bet) Benson – Trained by Sandy Thompson (odds 20/1)
4:50 Johnny Henderson Annual Challenge Cup Grand Chase Handicap (1st handicap) Douglas Talking – trained by Lucinda Russell (odds 25/1)
5:30 Weatherby’s Champion Bumper (A Standard Open Hunt Flat Race) (Grade 1)
Esprit Du Potier – Trained by Lucinda Russell (Odds 66/1)
Thursday, March 16th
2:10 final hurdle of Pertemps Grid (first handicap)
Brandi McQueen – Trained by Harriet Graham and Gary Rutherford (odds 80/1)
4:10 Magners Plate Handicap Chase (First Handicap)
Bass Rock – trained by Sandy Thompson (odds 66/1)
5:30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur riders to chase handicap
Hale Sixteen – trained by Sandy Thompson (odds 40/1)
Friday, March 17th
2:50 Novice Hurdle by Albert Bartlett (G1)
De Legislator – Practice with Lucinda Russell – (odds 100/1)
Ennis Orr – Trained by Lucinda Russell – (Odds 1/100)
3:30 Poodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1)
Ahoy Senor – trained by Lucinda Russell – (odds 16/1)
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