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A number of Gold Cup hopefuls are in action this weekend, with their connections eager to prove they have a contender capable of dethroning the mighty Al Boum Photo. All roads lead to Cheltenham but a poor showing in their next runs could see some horses scratched from a scrap with the two-time Gold Cup winner and switched to lower-profile races at this year’s Festival.
Ascot – Saturday
The winner of this race in 2019, Cyrname is looking to bounce back after being pulled up in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. The Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old is also entered for the Ryanair Chase on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival so a Gold Cup outing is not guaranteed.
A 40/1 shot for the Gold Cup, Master Tommytucker is seeking back-to-back Grade 2 wins after landing the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton Park last month. He also holds an entry for the Ryanair Chase in case connections decide Gold Cup company is a step too far.
Newbury – Sunday
Trainer Colin Tizzard has opted to enter Lostintranslation for the Denman Chase instead of the Ascot Chase after checking track conditions. The 10-year-old is winless since November 2019 and – like Cyrname – pulled up on his last start in the King George VI Chase at Christmas. Lostintranslation has only been entered for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham so the target is clear – and he is currently 14/1 NRMB.
The winner of last year’s Ultima Handicap Chase, The Conditional is being run in the rearranged Denman Chase as a test of his credentials for the Gold Cup. The “worst case scenario” for trainer David Bridgwater is to defend the Ultima if the nine-year-old fails to fire at Newbury.
Simply The Betts
Trainer Harry Whittington has entered Simply The Betts for three races at Cheltenham – the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Ryanair Chase and the Gold Cup. The eight-year-old was a winning machine in 2019/20 but disappointed on his seasonal reappearance in the Grade 3 Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in November. A better performance is needed in his second run of the season.
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Champ has not run since winning the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at last year’s Festival so trainer Nicky Henderson made a late call to switch his runner from the near 3m Denman Chase to the shorter 2m 1/2f Game Spirit Chase for his seasonal reappearance. An entry in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle is also held by the nine-year-old so his performance at Newbury could prove decisive to his Festival pick.
*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.
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