Horse Racing tips: Noble Yeats out to strengthen Gold Cup claims at Cheltenham

Paisley Park, Noble Yeats, Energumene and Edwardstone are all in action this weekend.


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Noble Yeats was no ordinary Grand National winner last spring, causing an upset at 50/1 just six months after his very first start over fences. Victory in the Grand National is more often the high point towards the end of a chaser’s career, but, having just turned eight years old, Noble Yeats is only just getting going over fences. He’s won his last two starts under new rider Sean Bowen who has taken over from his now retired Aintree partner Sam Waley-Cohen.

Noble Yeats’ latest win came back at Aintree, over the regular fences this time, in the Many Clouds Chase where he ran his best race yet, surging into the lead approaching the last to beat some high-class rivals, including Ahoy Senor, Sounds Russian and Sam Brown, who could all line up against him again.

But while he’s entitled to beat that trio again, Noble Yeats might find last season’s Many Clouds winner Protektorat a tougher nut to crack. Protektorat went on to finish third behind A Plus Tard in last year’s Gold Cup and is also a former winner at Cheltenham over both hurdles and fences as well as running another good race in defeat at the track when a close second in last season’s Paddy Power Gold Cup.

A Plus Tard was odds-on to confirm that Gold Cup form in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November but the result was very different, with the favourite pulling up and Protektorat running out such a good winner that he would likely have given even a top-form A Plus Tard a run for his money.

There would be no more popular result than a repeat success for 2019 winner Frodon, though he was a long way back in third behind Protektorat in the Betfair Chase, while Dusart remains very lightly raced over fences and likely to be all the better for his return over hurdles at Cheltenham last month. However, it’s Protektorat and Noble Yeats who look the most likely pair to book their places in the Gold Cup back here in March.

Energumene and Edwardstone clash in Clarence House

It’s Cheltenham’s final meeting before the Festival and what looks sure to be an informative Trials Day has been boosted by last week’s postponed Clarence House Chase being added to the card. Energumene went down to Shishkin in a memorable edition of this contest at the race’s usual home of Ascot last year and he certainly won’t be inconvenienced by the change of venue. Energumene became Willie Mullins’ overdue first winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at last year’s Festival before following up at Punchestown and comes here with the same preparation as last year after an easy win in Cork’s Hilly Way Chase last month.

Chief rival Edwardstone will be back at the scene of one of his biggest triumphs too, having won the Sporting Life Arkle here last March. Since then, he took his form up a notch with a top-class effort when taking the scalps of the previous year’s winner Greaneteen and Shishkin in the Tingle Creek at Sandown in December. A very rare jumping lapse saw Edwardstone unseat in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton last time, but tough and likeable though he is, he has his work cut out against a rival currently rated the best chaser in training by Timeform.

Editeur du Gite, 28/1-winner of the Desert Orchid and twice a Cheltenham winner himself last season, and Funambule Sivola, a well-held fourth in the same race at Kempton last time but runner-up to Energumene in the Champion Chase, are also among the entries but they look set for a supporting role only in what should be a contest to savour. 


Paisley Park Cheltenham Festival Stayers' Hurdle 2019

Paisley Park bidding to make it four in the Cleeve

Paisley Park tasted Festival success in 2019 when winning the Stayers’ Hurdle and has finished third in the last two runnings of that race but his record in the Cleeve Hurdle is better still. First successful in his unbeaten 2018/19 campaign when coming home twelve lengths clear, he followed up a year later when recording a seventh win on the bounce. Waterlogging caused the meeting to be abandoned in 2021, but he was back to claim his third Cleeve last year when turning the tables on the odds-on favourite Champ who had beaten him in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot the previous month.

Paisley Park won the Long Walk Hurdle for a third time last month when it had to be switched to Kempton’s Boxing Day card. The testing conditions put Paisley Park’s stamina at a premium on a track which wouldn’t normally play to his strengths as much as Cheltenham where the uphill finish has proven to suit him time and again.

Although he’ll be the senior runner in the line-up, Paisley Park looks the one to beat again and, in any case, several of his rivals have been around a while too, including Dashel Drasher, runner-up in the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham’s New Year’s Day meeting. Likeable front-runner though he is, he’ll be a big target for Paisley Park to aim at once they’ve turned into the straight.

Among the ‘newer blood’ in the field, Gelino Bello could be interesting back over hurdles for Paul Nicholls. He started out successfully over fences this season before a fall in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase last time and connections will be hoping the return to the smaller obstacles will work as well for him as it did for the stable’s four-time Stayers’ Hurdle winner Big Buck’s who himself won this race twice.



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