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West With The Wind to Head Williams Team for The Open at Cheltenham 20/10/11

Evan Williams has his string in fine form at present and the Glamorgan trainer is hopeful that Lancetto’s triumph at The Showcase last weekend is merely a prelude to further Cheltenham glory at The Open next month, with Buck Mulligan and the exciting West With The Wind also being aimed at the prestigious event.

The Open takes place over three days at Cheltenham on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 11, 12 and 13, with the feature contest being Saturday’s £150,000 Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup (2.35pm) over an extended two and a half miles.

West With The Wind scored three times in a novice chase campaign earlier this year and showed that he is still on the upgrade when following a Ffos Las handicap chase success in August with a comfortable victory over Loosen My Load in the Grade Three PricewaterhouseCoopers Chase (1.45pm) over two miles and a furlong at Limerick on October 9.

Williams now intends sending the six-year-old to The Open on Sunday, November 13 for the £35,000 Bottlegreen Chase (1.45pm) over two miles, a race that was won by the top-class Well Chief upon inauguration in 2009.

Williams revealed: “West With The Wind will definitely be aimed at the Bottlegreen Chase on the Sunday at The Open. That is where we will go next with him.

“He came out of the race in Ireland well, he travelled home quite nicely and the Bottlegreen Chase was actually the one race that I thought would be suitable to have a little look at. It is good prize money and we will certainly plan to go there next with him.

“We are lucky, there is no doubting we have a grand bunch of horses and fingers are crossed that they can stay in the type of form that they have been in over the past couple of weeks. It is always nice to have runners at Cheltenham.”

Lancetto
© Grossick Racing Photography

Lancetto
That grand bunch includes the smart Lancetto, who landed the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices’ Chase over two miles at The Showcase on Saturday, October 15. The six-year-old gave 5lb and a three quarter-length beating to the Paul Nicholls-trained Toubab and Williams is eyeing the £23,500 Grade Two Independent Newspapers Novices’ Chase (1.10pm) at The Open on the Sunday.

Williams continued: “I would say there will be every chance that Lancetto will go back to Cheltenham for the two-mile novice chase at The Open. He surprised us a little bit in the way that he stayed up the hill and that is probably a good sign because it is a massive advantage to be able to finish well up that old hill.

“He has come out of the race very well. I think the runner-up will come on a good bit but we did give him a bit of weight and I do think our horse is quietly progressive - and he handles Cheltenham.

“It is a big advantage if you have proven that you have handled Cheltenham in the past and the first thing that goes through your mind is going back to the place.”

Another Williams raider to continue his good form at The Showcase was Buck Mulligan. The six-year-old has been steadily progressive in defeat over fences and could now head to the BetVictor Gold Cup, the showpiece race at The Open on Saturday, November 12, after finishing runner-up to Billie Magern in the ZEturf.com Handicap Chase over two and a half miles.

Williams added: “Buck Mulligan ran really well last time. He was up 4lb for running well at Market Rasen and the truth of the matter is that he didn’t jump early and he missed the third last.

“He probably got a good deal of benefit from going around Cheltenham and, if the ground stays on the good side, I wouldn’t rule out going back there.

“I never thought I would be talking about Buck Mulligan going for a Paddy Power Gold Cup, if I’m honest. I have to say that there are surely classier rivals and better treated rivals but I think he is one of those horses that has started to get a lot of confidence from running well in a higher grade. He is quietly coming along and he is getting there off an attractive weight.

“He is very fit and well, so he will get an entry for the Paddy Power Gold Cup and we will definitely look to run the horse.”

The Open stages 18 races over three days worth a total of £587,000, as well as the Greatwood Charity Sweepstake, which concludes the event at 4.10pm on Sunday, November 13.

Friday is the well-established Countryside Day and features the £22,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (2.55pm), as well as the £21,500 Grade Two Opus Energy Novices’ Hurdle (1.45pm) and the £40,000 paddypower.com on Mobile Handicap Chase (2.20pm), while action off the track includes the popular stallion parade prior to racing.

Paddy Power Gold Cup Day on Saturday features the £150,000 Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup (2.35pm), while the cracking six-race card also includes the £21,000 Grade Two JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (1.20pm) and the £40,000 Grade Three The Open Handicap Chase (1.55pm).

Sunday’s feature race is the £100,000 Grade Three Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (2.20pm), which often provides pointers to the Grade One Stan James Champion Hurdle at The Festival in March. Sunday also hosts the Grade Two Independent Newspaper Novices’ Chase (1.10pm) and the Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (3.30pm).

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