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    Harry Whittington, who trains at Sparsholt in Oxfordshire, is bidding for his first Festival winner but has a decent team assembled for this year.

    He said: “We were delighted with Simply The Betts on Festival Trials Day and now he will have to mix it with the big boys in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, which won’t be easy. Hopefully, he can continue on an upward curve, as he has been in great form all year.

    Rouge Vif will go for the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase. It looks quite open this year, although of course it won’t be easy. My horse has improved with every run and had a wind op after he finished fourth here in December. They always say the second run back after a wind op is the better run and he won the Kingmaker well. I don’t plan on doing any fast work with him now and he will just tick over until the Arkle. He has form on all ground, but I think he is better on better ground.

    Saint Calvados will go for the Ryanair Chase. He is very different to Rouge Vif in that he is better when he is fresh – there is no doubt about that. After his run on New Year’s Day [finished second], we decided it would be best if he came straight here. He is in fabulous shape and I could not be happier with him. It is not going to be easy against the likes of A Plus Tard, Min and Riders Onthe Storm, but if the ground is very testing, he will have a chance.”

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