Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup
|Grade 1, Cheltenham
3m 2f 70y, Class 1
|Friday 18th March 2016|
Jan 30 Vautour is now the 7/2 favourite with Titanbet for the Cheltenham Gold Cup after stablemate Djakadam fell at Prestbury Park on January 30.
Last year's Gold Cup runner-up was sent off odds-on favourite for the BetBright Chase but he got rid of Ruby Walsh half way around and is now 9/2 to triumph in March.
Smad Place stayed on strongly up the hill and earned himself a quote of 12/1 with Titanbet, cut from 25/1.
Irish trainers are responsible for well over half of the 32 entries in the Grade One Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, with Britain's richest non-handicap chase worth a record £575,000 and the highlight on the fourth and final day of The Festival, Friday, March 18.
Many of the 18 Irish-trained entries, a new record (previous highest 13), are housed with the country's champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins who is after a first victory in the extended three and a quarter mile championship contest. The County Carlow handler has eight horses in contention, headlined by the Susannah Ricci-owned duo of Djakadam, runner-up last year, and The Festival dual scorer Vautour.
RSA Chase hero Don Poli, one of nine entries for Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud, is also engaged by Mullins alongside fellow Grade One victors Sir Des Champs, Boston Bob and Valseur Lido. On His Own, runner-up to Lord Windermere (Jim Culloty) in the 2014 renewal, and Ballycasey complete the Mullins octet.
Don Cossack heads three entries for another Irish trainer Gordon Elliott who is yet to have a runner in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. The nine-year-old is the highest-rated chaser in training after Grade One triumphs at Aintree and Punchestown in the spring, but blotted his copybook when falling in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. Elliott has also entered exciting novice No More Heroes, and Roi Du Mee.
Road To Riches has not run since landing the Grade Two Clonmel Oil Chase in November, while Wounded Warrior last appeared when chasing home Valseur Lido in a Grade One contest at Punchestown in April.
Meade commented: "I could not be happier with Road To Riches. We had a bit of a blood disorder and snotty nose with him at Christmas, but all is well now and the plan is to go to Leopardstown for the Irish Gold Cup (February 6).
"I felt last year that we tried to put it up to Coneygree and then Djakadam came and got us as we faded on the run-in. I think Djakadam will improve because he was a young horse last year.
"I would be really happy if I could get Road To Riches to Cheltenham in the same condition as last year. He might even improve a little bit as well because he will be a fresher horse this time around. He'd had a long season going there last year.
"I'm not sure ground is a big factor with Road To Riches. He handles soft ground and goes on good ground. You would say the ground was a help to Coneygree last year and we know Djakadam goes very well on soft ground. Those are factors that might make a difference, but we will see.
"We have just had a few muscle problems with Wounded Warrior that have held him up. He will be entered in the Grand National, Irish Grand National and plenty of other long distance races because he wants a trip.
"He is in the Gold Cup and we will see how things go. He is a huge horse that I have always liked a lot and I am hoping he will improve. Hopefully, we can keep him right and have a good end to the season."
Alan King has entered impressive Hennessy Gold Cup scorer Smad Place, while Saphir Du Rheu tops three entries for Britain's champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls.
The only British-trained novice engaged is Scottish-based Seeyouatmidnight (Sandy Thomson) who produced an excellent round of jumping to win the Grade Two BetBright #realfansonly Novices' Chase at Cheltenham on New Year's Day. Coneygree became the first novice for 41 years to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015.
Other notable names include Al Ferof (Dan Skelton), third to Cue Card on Boxing Day, 2014 RSA Chase victor O'Faolains Boy (Rebecca Curtis) and 2015 Crabbie's Grand National hero Many Clouds (Oliver Sherwood), who finished sixth last year.
Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase
£575,000 added, 5yo plus, 3m 2f 70y, Class 1
Scratchings deadline February 16, £27,500 supplementary entry stage & six-day confirmation stage March 12. Final 48-hour declaration stage, 10.00am, March 16. Maximum number of runners - 24.
|AL FEROF (FR)||11||John Hales||Dan Skelton|
|BALLYCASEY (IRE)||9||Susannah Ricci||Willie Mullins IRE|
|BOSTON BOB (IRE)||11||Andrea & Graham Wylie||Willie Mullins IRE|
|CARLINGFORD LOUGH (IRE)||10||J P McManus||John Kiely IRE|
|CHAMPAGNE WEST (IRE)||8||Roger Brookhouse||Philip Hobbs|
|CUE CARD||10||Jean Bishop||Colin Tizzard|
|DJAKADAM (FR)||7||Susannah Ricci||Willie Mullins IRE|
|DON COSSACK (GER)||9||Gigginstown House Stud||Gordon Elliott IRE|
|DON POLI (IRE)||7||Gigginstown House Stud||Willie Mullins IRE|
|FIRST LIEUTENANT (IRE)||11||Gigginstown House Stud||Mouse Morris IRE|
|GILGAMBOA (IRE)||8||J P McManus||Enda Bolger IRE|
|HOLYWELL (IRE)||9||Gay Smith||Jonjo O'Neill|
|IRISH CAVALIER (IRE)||7||Andrew McIver||Rebecca Curtis|
|LORD WINDERMERE (IRE)||10||Dr Ronan Lambe||Jim Culloty IRE|
|MANY CLOUDS (IRE)||9||Trevor Hemmings||Oliver Sherwood|
|MORNING ASSEMBLY (IRE)||9||Clipper Logistics Group Ltd||Pat Fahy IRE|
|NO MORE HEROES (IRE)||7||Gigginstown House Stud||Gordon Elliott IRE|
|O'FAOLAINS BOY (IRE)||9||Trembath, Hyde, Outhart & Hill||Rebecca Curtis|
|ON HIS OWN (IRE)||12||Andrea & Graham Wylie||Willie Mullins IRE|
|ROAD TO RICHES (IRE)||9||Gigginstown House Stud||Noel Meade IRE|
|ROCKY CREEK (IRE)||10||The Johnson & Stewart Families||Paul Nicholls|
|ROI DU MEE (FR)||11||Gigginstown House Stud||Gordon Elliott IRE|
|SAPHIR DU RHEU (FR)||7||The Stewart Family||Paul Nicholls|
|SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT||8||Quona Thomson||Sandy Thomson|
|SIR DES CHAMPS (FR)||10||Gigginstown House Stud||Willie Mullins IRE|
|SMAD PLACE (FR)||9||Trish Andrews||Alan King|
|THE GIANT BOLSTER||11||Simon Hunt & Gary Lambton||David Bridgwater|
|TRIOLO D'ALENE (FR)||9||Sandy & Caroline Orr||Nicky Henderson|
|VALSEUR LIDO (FR)||7||Gigginstown House Stud||Willie Mullins IRE|
|VAUTOUR (FR)||7||Susannah Ricci||Willie Mullins IRE|
|VIRAK (FR)||7||Hills of Ledbury (Aga)||Paul Nicholls|
|WOUNDED WARRIOR (IRE)||7||Gigginstown House Stud||Noel Meade IRE|