Kicking King leads Cheltenham Festival Trophy charge

Kicking King, winner of the King George VI Chase, heads 39 entries for the inaugural Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase at Cheltenham.

Kicking King, winner of the King George VI Chase, heads 39 entries for the inaugural Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase at Cheltenham.

The new championship event over two miles and five furlongs is one of two possible options for Tom Taaffe’s seven-year-old as he is also in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Connections have yet to decide which event Kicking King will tackle and Taaffe has already said they will leave it late before committing to either race.

Edredon Bleu, winner of the 2000 Queen Mother Champion Chase, has been entered by trainer Henrietta Knight while last Saturday’s Gowran Park winner Rathgar Beau is a possible raider for Dusty Sheehy.

Champion trainer Martin Pipe has nine entries in the event, including David Johnson’s exciting trio Celestial Gold, Our Vic and Therealbandit.

Pipe’s trainers’ championship rival Paul Nicholls has four entries in Le Duc, Le Roi Miguel, My Will and Thisthatandtother while Nicky Henderson’s entries include Fondmort, winner of last season’s Paddy Power Gold Cup.

Kevin Bishop has given his useful novice Ashley Brook an entry in the race but he is also a possible for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy.

The seven-year-old was last seen in action when finishing fourth in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase and Bishop has yet to decide whether to keep to novice company or take in the new Grade Two race.

“I’m not really leaning towards the Arkle Trophy or the Daily Telegraph Chase at the moment,” said Bishop.

“It will largely depend on what the ground is like at the Festival – if it came up good, he could run in the Daily Telegraph Chase or if it came up quite soft, he would probably go for the Arkle.”

Other interesting entries include Paul Webber’s Buckby Lane, winner of last month’s Ladbrokes Trophy Chase on his first start for more than a year, last Saturday’s Aon Chase winner Farmer Jack and Arthur Moore’s Native Upmanship.

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