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Cheltenham - Racing: Hales seeking Festival glory

Owner John Hales is confident Protektorat can land him a first success in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.

Hales, who has been victorious in the Queen Mother Champion Chase three time including his last festival success with Politologue in 2020, has seen the Gold Cup elude him as an owner so far, but has a live chance with the Dan Skelton-trained Protektorat, priced at 7/1 to top the field.

lightly raced this term

The seven-year-old was a Grade 1 winner at Aintree's Grand National meeting last season and has only been seen twice this term, finishing second in the Paddy Power Gold Cup before winning the Many Clouds Chase in dominant fashion in December.

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Fierce competition at the Festival

Protektorat has been kept fresh to head straight for a Gold Cup tilt since and is set to face off against last year's first and second, Minella Indo and A Plus Tard, as well as two-time hero Al Boum Photo.

King George VI Chase winner Tornado Flyer, multiple Grade 1 winner Chantry House and leading Candidate Galvin also feature among the rivals Protektorat could face on Friday.

Hales said: "I take the view that if he doesn't make a mistake it's going to take a bloody good horse to beat him. He's very exciting, he's been trained specifically for this race and as long as he doesn't make a silly error, he'll take some beating."

He added: "He looks very, very well – he really does. Dan's producing him from home and he knows what he's doing. I'm excited because he does have a serious chance of winning the race."

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