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Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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By Dylan Jenear ValueChecker

Peddlers Cross Suffers Setback; Pride Of Dulcote Favourite for Hennessy 03/02/11

Peddlers Cross, who was set to line up in either the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown or the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las this weekend, will not be contesting either race after suffering a setback.

Peddlers Cross
© Grossick Racing Photography

Peddlers Cross
The unbeaten six-year-old, who had champion hurdler Binocular back in third when landing the rescheduled Fighting Fifth on his reappearance at Newbury in November, reportedly coughed after coming off the gallops at trainer Donald McCain’s yard on Wednesday morning, and connections will now attempt to prepare the exciting gelding to go directly for the Stan James Champion Hurdle at next month’s Cheltenham Festival, a race for which he is a top-priced 7.46 on Betfair at the time of writing.

While it’s disappointing that Peddlers Cross will not be turned out on Saturday, it’s still a weekend of racing to look forward to, and there should be plenty of Festival clues emanating from Leopardstown’s card on Sunday, which features four Grade 1 events, the most prestigious of which is the Hennessy Gold Cup at 3.45.

Paul Nicholls, who sent out Neptune Collonges to win the race in 2009, relies on Pride Of Dulcote this time, and the eight-year-old, currently a best-priced 18-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, rates a cracking prospect over fences.

Formerly a classy novice over hurdles, Pride Of Dulcote has landed both starts in this sphere to date, most recently when returning from 14 months off to beat Punchestowns in a four-runner graduation chase at Newbury in December. The latter didn’t advertise the form at Cheltenham subsequently, but there’s no doubt that Paul Nicholls’ charge is a chaser of immense potential.

Indeed, he was beaten just half-a-length into second by Weapons Amnesty in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival, and the latter developed into a leading novice chaser last term when capping his season with victory in the RSA Chase, paying a huge compliment to the form of the Albert Bartlett. That Nicholls isn’t going down the novice route with Pride Of Dulcote is indicative of the high esteem in which he is held, and the 3.25 available with William Hill for the Hennessy looks very fair.

Next in the betting for Sunday’s big race is last year’s winner Joncol, who should be spot-on for another tilt at this prize following his solid effort in the Lexus Chase over C&D during the Christmas period. Paul Nolan’s stable star was beaten less than seven lengths into third behind Pandorama, and he will ensure that Pride Of Dulcote’s Cheltenham Festival credentials are full tested.

Also entered in the Hennessy is Money Trix, who was runner-up in the Lexus on his reappearance, and the Lexus fifth The Listener, successful in this race in 2008. Cooldine has been slightly disappointing since winning the 2009 RSA Chase in breathtaking style, and bids to get back on track after being pulled up in the Lexus.

 

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