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Cheltenham Gold Cup - Friday March 16th 2012 

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Long Run & Kauto Star Line Up for Gold Cup Show Down
10/03/12

This year’s £500,000 Grade One Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (3.20pm) is set to be another superb contest with Long Run and Kauto Star featuring among 19 six-day confirmations for chasing’s Blue Riband, highlight of Gold Cup Day at The Festival, Friday, March 16.

Long Run
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Long Run

Both horses have tasted glory in Cheltenham’s extended three and a quarter mile chase, with Long Run taking the spoils in 2011 as he powered to a seven-length victory over Denman, with Kauto Star, successful in both 2007 & 2009, a further four lengths back in third. Long Run is now generally 2/1 favourite for Gold Cup 2012.

Seven-year-old Long Run trained by Nicky Henderson and owned by Cheltenham Racecourse chairman Robert Waley-Cohen, warmed up for the defence of his crown with success by half a length over stable companion Burton Port in the Grade Two Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury on February 17.

Despite being five years older than Long Run, Kauto Star has looked as good as ever this season, twice beating his younger rival this term with outstanding front-running performances in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November and the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

Clive Smith’s chaser has now won an incredible 16 Grade One contests for his trainer Paul Nicholls and he pleased connections in a racecourse gallop at Wincanton on Friday as he continues his recuperation from a fall he sustained while schooling at the end of February.

Kauto Star
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Kauto Star
If Kauto Star were to be successful in this year’s Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, he would become only the fifth horse to win the great race at least three times following Cottage Rake (1948, 1949 & 1950), Arkle (1964, 1965 & 1966), Best Mate (2002, 2003, 2004) and Golden Miller (1932, 1933, 1934, 1935 & 1936) and the oldest winner since fellow 12-year-old What A Myth prevailed in 1969.

He already holds a place in history as being the first horse to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

A potentially fascinating contender could be the David Pipe-trained Grands Crus, who has barely been tested in three starts over fences, including when readily taking the Grade One williamhill.com Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton on December 26. The seven-year-old, who has the option of running in the Grade One RSA Chase on Ladies Day at The Festival, Wednesday, March 14, could bid to become the first novice to win the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup since Captain Christy succeeded in 1974. A decision about which race Grands Crus goes for is expected on Monday.

Midnight Chase has won on five of his last six visits to Cheltenham, most recently when comfortably landing the Grade Two Argento Chase on Festival Trials Day, January 28, and his trainer Neil Mulholland is hopeful that the 10-year-old can improve on his fifth place behind Long Run at The Festival last year.

Mulholland commented: “Midnight Chase worked this morning and we are very happy with him at the moment. He’s in great form and we are obviously looking forward to running him on Friday.

“It was only his second season chasing last year and he’s stronger now. He was only beaten 19 lengths in last year’s race, when Tom Scudamore rode him because Dougie Costello got injured on the day before The Festival. Hopefully, Dougie can stay in one piece this time.

“We are hoping for a place and anything else would be a bonus.”

Weird Al, who broke a blood vessel in last year’s race, posted a fine victory on his first appearance for trainer Donald McCain in the Grade Two bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and was third behind Kauto Star and Long Run in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November.

Legendary Irish owner J P McManus has yet to win the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup but he looks to have an excellent chance with the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Synchronised, who gained a first Grade One win on his most recent start in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown in December.

Other contenders going forward include the two most recent winners of the Newbury’s Grade Three Hennessy Gold Cup - Carruthers, representing Mark Bradstock, and the Nick Williams-trained Diamond Harry - plus last year’s Grade One Racing Post Arkle Chase scorer Captain Chris, from the stable of Philip Hobbs.

Medermit
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Medermit
Medermit also boasts Grade One-winning form for Alan King, while The Giant Bolster, trained locally by David Bridgewater, and the Paul Webber-trained Time For Rupert have both been successful over fences at Cheltenham.

The three Irish-trained entries going forward consist of China Rock, whose trainer Mouse Morris sent out War Of Attrition to win the 2006 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the Willie Mullins-trained pair of Quel Esprit and The Midnight Club.

Dual Grade One victor What A Friend and five-time Cheltenham winner Poquelin could also line up for Paul Nicholls alongside Kauto Star, while the entry is completed by the George Charlton-trained Knockara Beau, who was third to Midnight Chase in the Argento Chase on Festival Trials Day.

 

Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1)
£500000.00 added, 5yo plus, 3m 2f 110y, Class 1

Form Horse Age Wt Trainer
1121/2-2 Burton Port (IRE) 28 8 11-10 N J Henderson
11-1U3P Captain Chris (IRE) 48 8 11-10 P J Hobbs
640-31P Carruthers 80 9 11-10 M Bradstock
134P-45 China Rock (IRE) 33 9 11-10 M F Morris
11P/1-45 Diamond Harry 48 9 11-10 Nick Williams
22-6111 Grands Crus (FR) 81 7 11-10 D Pipe
133-P11 Kauto Star (FR) 81 12 11-10 P F Nicholls
5-02632 Knockara Beau (IRE) 30 9 11-10 G A Charlton
311-221 Long Run (FR) 28 7 11-10 N J Henderson
42-1322 Medermit (FR) 27 8 11-10 A King
115-F31 Midnight Chase 48 10 11-10 N P Mulholland
141-5U2 Poquelin (FR) 48 9 11-10 P F Nicholls
FF-B111 Quel Esprit (FR) 33 8 11-10 W P Mullins
13-P031 Synchronised (IRE) 79 9 11-10 Jonjo O'Neill
4U0214 The Giant Bolster 28 7 11-10 D G Bridgwater
216-B43 The Midnight Club (IRE) 43 11 11-10 W P Mullins
15-2514 Time For Rupert (IRE) 48 8 11-10 P R Webber
1/10P-13 Weird Al (IRE) 118 9 11-10 D McCain Jnr
524P-33 What A Friend 28 9 11-10 P F Nicholls

19 runners

Going: Good, Good to Soft in places

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