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Cheltenham Festival 2018: Altior fit to run in Queen Mother Champion Chase

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    Altior (left) was lame on Monday morning
    Cheltenham Festival
    Venue: Cheltenham Racecourse Date: 13-16 March
    Coverage: Full coverage on BBC Radio 5 live; continued on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; live text updates on BBC Sport website

    The favourite Altior will bid to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday after overcoming a late fitness scare.

    Trainer Nicky Henderson said the horse was lame on Monday but will be fit.

    Rivals in one of the most eagerly-awaited contests of the meeting will include the talented Willie Mullins-trained duo of Douvan and Min.

    Meanwhile, jockey Bryony Frost seeks victory on Ladies’ Day aboard Black Corton in the RSA Chase.

    Altior back on track

    Winner of all 12 of his races over jumps, Altior beat Min in the Arkle Chase at the Festival last year.

    “I’m pleased to report that Altior is perfectly sound so it’s all systems go for him in the Champion Chase,” said Henderson.

    “He is perfectly OK. Preparation and nerves have been difficult but we’re here now.”

    Douvan, sent off the 1-4 favourite for last year’s race, could only finish seventh as Special Tiara triumphed in one of the Festival’s biggest all-time shocks.

    But the meeting’s all-time leading jockey Ruby Walsh keeps faith with Douvan as the eight-year-old races for the first time since that defeat.

    Politologue, Gods Own and Ar Mad are among other contenders for the two-mile championship.

    What’s on when, on Wednesday

    (All times GMT, distances in miles and furlongs)

    Can Cause of Causes win again at the Festival? He goes in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase at 16:10

    13:30: Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle 2m 5f

    14:10: RSA Steeple Chase 3m ½f

    14:50: Coral Cup (handicap hurdle) 2m 5f

    15:30: Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase 2m

    16:10: Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase 3m 6f

    16:50: Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle 2m 1½f

    17:30: Weatherbys Champion Bumper 2m ½f

    Tips from the BBC 5 live team

    Reporter Gina Harding: 14:10, Monalee (3-1)

    The RSA can be a real stamina-sapping slog, which should play into the hands of thorough stayer Monalee. He was an excellent second in the Albert Bartlett last year and has already proved himself a better chaser than a hurdler and should have an excellent chance of landing the spoils for trainer Henry De Bromhead.

    Commentator John Hunt: 16:10, Tiger Roll (5-1)

    Can anything stop the incredible Cause Of Causes from landing yet another Festival win in the Cross Country Chase? Maybe Tiger Roll is the one? He’s looking for his third Festival win and trainer Gordon Elliott apparently has him in peak form once more.

    Jockey Andrew Thornton: 13:30, Samcro (8-11)

    For me there is only one horse to consider – Samcro. He’s my banker for the meeting and could be a future Gold Cup winner.

    What are the other highlights?

    The action gets under way with the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle where the highly-rated Samcro is considered a ‘banker’ by some punters to win.

    Opposition to Samcro, a winner of all six starts for trainer Gordon Elliott, includes four Mullins runners – Next Destination, Duc Des Genievres, Scarpeta and Brahma Bull.

    Rising star Frost bids to add another big victory to her portfolio in the RSA Chase, in which Presenting Percy and Monalee are among other leading contenders.

    Black Corton has won eight novice chases this season already and Frost became only the second female jockey to ride a Grade One winner over jumps when partnering him to victory at Kempton on Boxing Day.

    “Blackie is in good stead, he seems happy enough and his coat is shining. He’s cool and we are ready to rock and roll,” the 22-year-old rider told BBC Sport.

    What is the weather forecast?

    BBC Radio 5 live weather forecaster Simon King

    Wednesday will be another dry day with some bright spells or hazy sunshine breaking through the cloud. However, it’ll turn quite breezy through the afternoon with gusts from the south east up to around 30-35mph.

    Rain is expected overnight into Thursday which could bring around 10-15mm of rain to the track by the end of the day. As racing gets under way, it may still be raining but gradually through the afternoon the rain will get lighter and patchier before the rain finally clears later on.

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