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Cheltenham Festival final day declarations: Redicean is the big local interest, but can Nicky Henderson make it a Festival hat trick?

Valdez in the Barbury Castle Yard warm-up ringValdez in the Barbury Castle Yard warm-up ringDeclarations made today (Wednesday, March 14) for the final day - Gold Cup day - of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival have been overshadowed by the news from Ladies' Day.

You can rely on the Festival to produce headlines - good and bad.  The bad headline on Day Two was Ruby Walsh's fall in the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase.  He suffered a suspected broken leg - just days after his return to the saddle from another broken leg.


The good news headline was Altior's brave win in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.  He was brought home after a tricky ride over sticky ground Altior does not relish, by Nico de Boinville.   Setting up Nicky Henderson for a possible Festival hat trick in the main races.


It may, of course, all depend on whether the course gets a soaking tonight - or during Thursday’s racing,


Friday, the final day, will start with Alan King's Redicean ridden by Wayne Hutchinson in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.  The race will have nine runners from the fifteen confirmed entries.


Apple's Shakira Apple's Shakira There is a strong Irish raiding party - including four trained by Willie Mullins.   And the triple winner Redicean will be up against Henderson's Apple's Shakira - the long term favourite for the race.


Alan King's William H Bonney will go in the Randox health County handicap Hurdle - one of 26 runners.


Enniscoffey Oscar (Leighton Aspell) and Paisley Park (Nick Scholfield) - both trained by Emma Lavelle at Ogbourne Maizey - will go in the Albert Bartlett.  Also in the twenty strong field will be Alan King's Talkischeap (Wayne Hutchinson).


There are no locally trained horses in the Gold Cup.  But all eyes will be on the favourite - Nicky Henderson's Might Bite with Nico de Boinville aboard.


Alan King's Coeur de Lion runs in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle - with Kevin Dowling aboard.  And those who back female jockeys will note that Bryony Frost is riding Paul Nicholls' Brelan d'As and Lizzie Kelly - fresh from her Day One Festival victory - is riding for Willie Mullins on Burrows Saint.


In the Festival's final race - the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase - Alan King's eleven year-old Valdez will run, ridden by Wayne Hutchinson.


Last month at Newbury Valdez came back after a long - as in 1,204 days - lay-off.  He had not raced since a fall at Chepstow on 25 October 2014.  He ran a very creditable race against Altior and Politologue - finishing seventeen lengths behind Altior.


If Valdez won the Grand Annual - what a headline story that would be!

Ruby Walsh talking to Barry Geraghty & Robbie Power at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival 2017Ruby Walsh talking to Barry Geraghty & Robbie Power at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival 2017

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