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Footpad Will Have to Conquer Old Foe to Triumph at Cheltenham

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Footpad will be bidding to improve his record at Cheltenham Festival when he competes in the Arkle Chase in March. The French horse has competed twice at the Festival in his career, but has not produced the success that his pedigree would suggest. He finished fourth in the Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy last season, while he placed in third at the Triumph Hurdle in 2016.

Willie Mullins’ charge has been in good form, winning his last two races. As a result, he’s backed at 6/4 at William Hill to triumph in March in the meet. However, the five-year-old must ensure that he is able to maintain the high standard of his form heading into the contest.

Footpad made his debut in 2015 and did not have to wait long to register the first victory of his career, securing the triumph in his second outing. Paul Townend took the reins and was able to see his charge through to success, delivering a comfortable win by six-and-a-half lengths. He made it two-for-two at Gowran Park with a fine run to dominate the rest of the field with a commanding performance.

The five-year-old proved his mettle at Leopardstown in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle. He was considered an outsider for the event, but with Danny Mullins in the saddle, the bay gelding rose to the occasion, beating out two of his stablemates, Allblak Des Places and Let’s Dance, to secure the victory.

However, he failed to sustain his momentum with an underwhelming performance at Cheltenham, while his season in England ended with a fall at Aintree in the 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle. Mullins made efforts to get his charge back up to speed by taking him to France where he reeled off back-to-back victories at Auteuil, sending him back over for the 2016-17 campaign with momentum.

In his return to action, the bay gelding struggled for form at the Ryanair Hurdle, finishing down in fourth place well off the pace. Petit Mouchoir won the race and would haunt Footpad once again their duel at Irish Champion Hurdle one month later, with the French horse ruing a mistake towards the end of the race leaving unable to close the gap to his rival.

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Both horses were left to marvel at the pace of Buveur D’Air at Cheltenham Festival in the Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy. However, Petit Mouchoir still finished ahead of Footpad, edging him out into third place. Mullins’ charge lacked the pace once again to end the campaign, placing in third well behind the eventual winner Unowhatimeanharry at the Champion Stayers Hurdle.

Footpad returned for the 2017-18 National Hunt term and Daryl Jacob took the reins for his opener at the EBF Beginners Chase. He was considered the favourite for the event and the French horse delivered a comfortable victory by 11 lengths ahead of his nearest rival Brelade.

Townend returned to the saddle for the Novice Chase at Leopardstown at the end of December. The bay gelding made his way through the field before making his charge three fences from the finish. He closed out the race to secure the victory by 11 lengths. Petit Monchoir has won his only race of the campaign after being sidelined due to injury, but the old foes are poised for an intriguing battle at the Arkle Chase in March.

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