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Village people confident of Cheltenham Festival glory

By Frank Brownlow

Neil Mulholland has revealed his hand for the Cheltenham Festival ahead of Fox Norton's shot at the big Kingmaker Novices Chase at Warwick.

Noel Fehily will ride the fancied Fox Norton for the Ulster trainer in tomorrow's £40,000 Warwick feature, with attention quickly turning to Cheltenham which starts just four weeks on Tuesday. Mulholland's big hope at jump racing's showpiece is the impressive Shantou Village.

"It is the big stage where everyone wants to be involved and wants results, and thankfully we have some lovely horses to take to the Festival this year," said Mulholland, now based near Bath.

"I am asked on an hourly basis where Shantou Village will run - the answer is we won't know until closer to the time as we will have to see what the ground is like.

"He ran on very soft ground on trials day where he finished second in the Grade Two Neptune Trial. This was a very good run as he was 10 lengths clear of the third and he absolutely hated the soft ground. He has come out of that race in great form."

Mulholland (pictured) said: "Thankfully it is not just about Shantou Village - we have several other horses going there that you would like to think can run big races.

"Southfield Royale looks to be a big player in the National Hunt Chase if he lines up there - he has taken to fences really well and he will stay all day.

"Minella Present looks to have a great chance in the Grand Annual after he ran a great race last time out at Cheltenham at the November meeting.

"The Young Master can make his presence felt on the first day in the Ultima Handicap Chase, the race that we won last year with The Druids Nephew.

"Hopefully we will have several other runners at the Festival."

Belfast Telegraph


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