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Harry Whittington has his eyes on the Cheltenham Festival

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The Sparsholt trainer will be hoping to add more success this year

TRAINER Harry Whittington has been discussing his options ahead of the Cheltenham Festival, which kicks off on March 16.

He was due to see two of his stable stars, Simply The Betts and Saint Calvados, run this weekend, but they will now head straight to Cheltenham.

Simply The Betts won the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase at last year’s Festival and Whittington believes that he is back to his best.

He said: “He didn’t have a full check of health, so he didn’t run in anything, but he’s back to himself and he’s in very good form.

“It is obviously getting close to Cheltenham, but he has only had one run this season and that was in the Paddy Power [Gold Cup].

“I can’t see any reason why he wouldn’t run at Cheltenham because he has only had the one run this season.”

Meanwhile, Saint Calvados – who is also on course for Cheltenham – did hold an entry for the Betfair Ascot Chase on Saturday.

However, the Sparsholt trainer decided against the run and as a result, he’ll be going straight to the Festival.

“He was left in it, but the plan was to go straight to Cheltenham,” admitted Whittington. “We thought we’d leave him in there so we can see what sort of form he is in this week.

“He only ran last weekend, and he fell earlier so he didn’t have a whole race, but we’re getting very close to Cheltenham and he is a horse that is better when he’s fresh.”

Saint Calvados was entered into this race last year, but pulled out before going on to finish second in the Ryanair Chase.

“We have left him in the Ryanair and the Gold Cup and I should think we’d be making a decision very late on that.”

Whittington is due to have one runner at Newbury on Sunday as Sirobbie holds an entry for the Betfair Weighed-In Podcast Weekly Handicap Hurdle.

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