Tranquil Sea, Catch Me & Osana to be Entered in Paddy Power Gold Cup 26/10/10
After saddling the first Irish-trained winner of the £150,000 Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup (2.30pm) for 29 years last season, legendary Co Tipperary handler Edward O’Grady is considering three of his stable stars for the highlight of The Open at Cheltenham on Saturday, November 13.
Entries for the extended two and a half-mile handicap chase close at noon today, Tuesday, October 26.
Tranquil Sea stormed to a decisive four and a half-length victory over Poquelin in last year’s BetVictor Gold Cup before going on to Grade Two glory in the rearranged Newlands Chase at Leopardstown at the end of February.
The eight-year-old returned to Cheltenham to finish ninth in the Grade One Ryanair Chase at The Festival and ended his campaign with a creditable sixth behind Planet Of Sound in the Grade One Punchestown Gold Cup in April.
He could be joined at The Open by stable-companion Catch Me, who boasts top-level form over hurdles and fences, having triumphed in the Grade One Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Faiyhouse in November, 2008, and taken third behind Pandorama in the Grade One Knight Frank Novice Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting last year.
Osana also established himself as one of last season’s top novice chasers with a string of excellent performances, including when third behind Sizing Europe in the Grade One The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase at The Festival and filling the runner-up spot in the Grade One Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree.
O’Grady revealed: “Tranquil Sea will be given an entry in this year’s Paddy Power Gold Cup alongside Catch Me and Osana, and the race is a possibility for all three as things stand.
“The first half of last season was very good for Tranquil Sea but the weather upset our plans for him. His prep race for the Ryanair Chase was supposed to be at Naas but it was frozen off and was rescheduled a week later. He won there but it was the opposite of a blessing in disguise because it was too close to The Festival.
“I am still not convinced about what his best trip is. He ran terribly well over three miles and a furlong in the Punchestown Gold Cup when he had a new jockey on him and it was the end of the season. We had messed up with The Festival and he probably wasn’t at his best anyhow, so it was a bit inconclusive.
“Catch Me is supposed to run in the Poplar Square Chase at Naas on Saturday (October 30), which Tranquil Sea won last year. It will be his first run back from injury and I believe that Captain Cee Bee will be running in the same race, so we will see what happens before deciding whether to go to Cheltenham with him.
“The horses are fit and ready but it has been prudent not to run them on the ground, so everything is on hold at the moment and it is unlikely that any of them would have their first run of the season in the Paddy Power Gold Cup. It would be nice to have a runner in the race but the weather is making things very frustrating.”
The £100,000 Grade Three Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (2.20pm) is another of the feature races at The Open and entries for the prestigious contest also close at noon tomorrow. The contest takes place on Sunday, November 14, day three of The Open.
Khyber Kim captured the extended two-mile contest last year for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and used that triumph as a springboard to the top, following up with an impressive victory over Celestial Halo in the Grade Two International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.
Caroline Mould’s top-class gelding went on to take second behind Binocular in the Grade One Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at The Festival in March before landing the Grade One Aintree Hurdle over two and half miles in April.
Other top-class victors in recent times include the 2003 Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle hero Rooster Booster (2002), and Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle winner Detroit City, who landed the 2006 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle and also added the International Hurdle next time out. Sizing Europe took the Grade One AIG Europe Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January, 2008, after winning the 2007 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, and was victorious in the 2010 Grade One The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase at The Festival.
Weights for both the Paddy Power Gold Cup and the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle will be revealed on Wednesday, November 3.
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