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Storyteller heads Sloans' Cheltenham challenge

By Ron McKnight

Flaxen Flare provided an initial Cheltenham Festival victory in 2013 in the Fred Winter Hurdle for the leading local owners Joe and Pat Sloan, and Flare will be joined this year by The Storyteller and Guitar Pete.

The Storyteller won at Down Royal over hurdles on Boxing Day 2016 and belatedly opened his account over fences at Fairyhouse in December last year.

The high-class youngster will form part of trainer Gordon Elliott's massive assault on Prestbury Park next week, has numerous options of races and is one for the shortlist in the trainer's chosen option at the festival.

Guitar Pete was formerly trained by Sandra Hughes and moved to Nicky Richards when she retired. The eight-year-old has been in good form, winning the Grade 3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham on his penultimate start prior to unseating his rider last time.

Guitar Pete is a 25/1 chance for the Brown Advisory Plate tomorrow week at the festival and holds each way claims.

Joe Sloan said: "A lot will be weather and going dependant. I think The Storyteller - named after a grandchild - is a very promising young horse. He and Guitar Pete are both in Thursday's chase - if heavy is in the ground description he won't run whereas Guitar Pete has been there and done it round Cheltenham over hurdles and fences.

"Again, Flaxen Flare wouldn't want heavy ground but the Cheltenham track can dry very quickly - we will first have to await the next declaration stage to see what gets in.

"I have offices in Cheltenham and was there yesterday and the sun shone most of the day with only a little rain late afternoon. The snow is totally cleared.

"The Aintree, Fairyhouse and Punchestown festivals are still to come so there is no panic."

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