Dream ends prematurely for one Champion hope

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The Champion Hurdle field was whittled down to 16 at yesterday's five-day acceptance stage, not through injury but oversight. Dreams End would have been a first Cheltenham Festival runner for the Bargoed trainer Bernard Llewellyn next Tuesday, but his failure to read the small print in the conditions of entry resulted in him omitting to declare the horse. A plea to the British Horseracing Board to be allowed back in fell on deaf ears.

"I read the Racing Calendar and it didn't say that the race closed today, just that we had to declare by 13 March," Llewellyn said. "It's saddening. The BHB admitted it was unclear but they still refuse to allow us back in.

"It has cost the owner £750 to get to this stage and you would think they would bend the rules a little; after all we were in touch within the hour of the declarations being announced.

"I suppose I'll have to repay the owner his £750 now and make sure it doesn't happen again."

Llewellyn had only recently taken charge of Dreams End, who was third in last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Festival when trained by Philip Hobbs, now plans to enter the gelding for the St Patrick's Day Hurdle at Prestbury Park on Friday.

Simon Claire, of the BHB, said that the circumstances of the situation had been looked into, but that there were no mitigating circumstances that would allow the reinstatement of Dreams End. "While we are sympathetic to all ,we can't start bending the rules in such a situation," he said.

The absence of Dreams End will not cause so much as a ripple in the betting market on the Champion in which Danoli now heads Coral's list at 7-2, with Large Action out to 4-1. The probability of testing ground at Cheltenham, which would bring Danoli's proven stamina into play, is the reason for the renewed confidence in the Irish horse.

Betting on who will emerge as leading jockey at the meeting is likely to be affected by a change of partners for Travado, the 11-4 second favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Jamie Osborne was due to partner the horse on whom he won the Arkle Trophy two years ago, but uncertainty about whether he will be claimed to ride Coulton for Oliver Sherwood has forced Nicky Henderson to book Richard Dunwoody instead.

Osborne had been 9-4 favourite with Coral to emerge as top rider and Dunwoody was a 5-1 chance. Adrian Maguire on 11-4 and Charlie Swan, who has taken that title at the last two Festivals, on 5-1, are the other leading protagonists.

Nevada Gold, 200-1 for the Gold Cup, will now instead have a tilt at the Ritz Club Handicap Chase on Tuesday.

CHAMPION HURDLE (Cheltenham, Tuesday): Alderbrook (trained by K Bailey), Atours (D Elsworth), Bold Boss (M Pipe), Danoli (T Foley, Irl), Destriero (N Furlong, Irl), Fortune And Fame (D Weld, Irl), Granville Again (M Pipe), Jazilah (M Pipe), Land Afar (J Webber), Large Action (O Sherwood), Mole Board (J Old), Montelado (P Flynn, Irl), Relkeel (D Nicholson), Vintage Crop (D Weld, Irl), Absalom's Lady (D Elsworth), Mysilv (C Egerton).