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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Festival options open to CantlowHeadlines
Paul Webber

Cantlow features among the possibles for the JLT Specialty Chase and the Byrne Group Plate as the handicap entries for the Cheltenham Festival have been revealed.

Paul Webber has made multiple entries for the eight-year-old with Cantlow also entered in the two-mile Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase, along with the three-mile and two-mile-five-furlong heats.

He has won two of his four starts to date over fences, claiming novice events at Plumpton and Taunton on his two most recent outings. Cantlow bypassed an intended run at Ascot last week and Webber is happy to tackle full company next time, rather than stick to novice level.

The handler said: "He's absolutely fine, we just decided to give Ascot a miss last weekend as we didn't want him to have a hard race on heavy ground. He's had a freshening couple of days and he's in four handicaps at Cheltenham, we've taken him out of the three novices' conditions races. We won't decide until much nearer the time which race he will run in, we will have to see how the fields shape up.

"I would imagine the two-mile-five-furlong race (Byrne Group Plate) would come into the picture but we are some way off a decision. He's off a mark of 143 so if we were to go for one of the novice races, he could be a stone wrong with some of them so the handicaps could be a better option. His jumping is pretty good and he will hopefully have his ground as he's not had it all season.

"We have been running him over shorter distances as the ground has been so testing and we didn't want to bottom him. It seems to be coming better now - it's amazing how much it has improved in the last three days."

Ninety-five horses have been entered for the JLT Specialty Chase, including the first seven home last year - winner Alfie Sherrin, who is also owned by McManus, Fruity O'Rooney, Our Mick, The Package, Billie Magern, Magnanimity and Quantitativeeasing. McManus' new recruit Wyck Hill, who is favourite for Saturday's Racing Plus Chase at Kempton, is also in the mix.

The Byrne Group Plate has a massive 102 contenders at this stage, with one-time Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Hunt Ball possibly on something of a retrieval mission. The likes of Alderwood, Colour Squadron and Tap Night could be in opposition.

Ulck Du Lin heads the market for the Grand Annual, with 71 horses under consideration at present. Eighty-six possible runner have been entered for the Pulteney Land Investments Novices' Chase, which was won in fine style by Hunt Ball last year. Dessie Hughes' White Star Line was second that day and he could have another crack at glory.

Enda Bolger has a typically strong hand among 45 entries for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase. Arabella Boy, Doctor Pat, Drawn N Drank and Freneys Well feature for Bolger, while last year's victor Balthazar King could head the home defence for Philip Hobbs.

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