Big Irish representation in Cheltenham Gold Cup list of possible runners

The 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John heads an 18 strong Irish contingent at the entries stage of this year’s race after a total of 38 put their name forward for the blue riband event on the 16th March.

The Anne and Alan Potts trained star looked imperious as ever when taking the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown in December but a terrible run at Leopardstown over Christmas has left people wondering whether the horse can win the race for the second year in a row.

Willie Mullins will lead the Irish charge with no less than five intended runners as he puts forward Djakadam, Acapella Bourgeois, Bachasson, Killultagh Vic and Total Recall.

Yorkhill is a notable absentee for the champion trainer however but he is now being aimed at the Ryanair Chase a day previous where he is now the second favourite.

Noel Meade will also have high hopes as he stables Leopardstown Chase winner Road to Respect while one of last years top novices Disko is also expected to show up for the Meath based trainer.

Jessica Harrington’s Our Duke and Eddie Harty’s Coney Island are two other horses sure to catch the eye of punters.

The Uk will have as strong a hand as ever with King George winner Might Bite the current 7-2 favourite for Nicky Henderson.

Doubts may still persist as to whether the Cotswolds track suits him best though after he almost ran out in the RSA Chase at last years festival before eventually pipping Whisper on the line.

Other main contenders are the double act of Cue Card and Native River for the Colin Tizzard yard but both horses are considered doubtful at this stage with Cue Card in particular expected to go for the Ryanair Chase.

Former winner Coneygree is also among the entries while last years third for Jonjo O’Neill Minella Rocco is also expected to feature.

Trainer Eddie Harty said: “I was delighted with Coney Island at Ascot. He has come out of it fit and well, and is ready to go again.
“He has been entered for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Ryanair Chase, and will also have entries in the Irish Gold Cup on February 4 and the Ascot Chase a fortnight later.
“We will go for one of those two and then make a decision about which race to aim for at Cheltenham after that.
“I think the Gold Cup picture looks as much as it did before Christmas. Might Bite did nothing wrong, Sizing John did, but that might have been down to the proximity of his prep race, and nothing else really came to the fore. My fella has shortened up in the betting after Ascot, but it was only a graduation chase. Touch wood and all being well, we will be able to decide where we are going after his prep run.
“I don’t have any concerns about his stamina, but it would have been stupid not to put him in the Gold Cup and the Ryanair as we are still nine weeks out from Cheltenham and can finalise plans nearer the time.”
As well as Might Bite, Nicky Henderson, seeking his third Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup success after Long Run (2011) and Bobs Worth (2013) also has entered Whisper, beaten a nose by his stable companion in the 2017 RSA Chase at The Festival and an excellent neck second in the Ladbrokes Trophy when giving a stone to Total Recall(Willie Mullins IRE) at Newbury in early December.
Irish-trained horses have won three of the last four runnings of the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup and Ireland’s hand is strengthened further by a team of five from the stable of Willie Mullins.
Mullins, who has saddled the runner-up on five occasions, could call upon Djakadam, second in both 2015 and 2016 and fourth when favourite in 2017, Total Recall, Killultagh VicBachasson and Acapella Bourgeois.
Noel Meade has a strong hand, thanks to recent G1 victor Road To Respect, who was successful in handicap company at The Festival last year, and the progressive Disko, while Gordon Elliott’s three entries include G1 victor Outlander.
The home challenge features last year’s second and third, Minella Rocco (Jonjo O’Neill) and Native River (Colin Tizzard). The latter is yet to race this season but is being aimed at the race, while Native River’s stablemate Cue Card, a dual winner at The Festival but a faller in the last two Cheltenham Gold Cups, is also engaged.
Coneygree (Mark Bradstock), who in 2015 became the first novice since Captain Christy in 1974 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, has recently had a wind operation following two disappointing efforts this season. Kauto Star (2007 & 2009) is the only horse to have regained the Cheltenham Gold Cup crown.
Nigel Twiston-Davies, victorious with Imperial Commander in 2010, is responsible for impressive G1 Betfair Chase hero Bristol De Mai and runaway Becher Handicap Chase victor Blaklion.
The Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup
Grade 1, £625,000 Total Prize Fund. 3.30pm,Cheltenham, Friday, March 16, 2018. Three miles, two and a half furlongs (3m 2f 70y). For 5yo+ who are allotted a rating of 130 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including the day prior to confirmation. Horses who are not qualified for a rating in GB, IRE or FR may also be entered & such horses may be eligible providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances up to and including the day prior to confirmation would merit a minimum rating of 130 (the decision of the BHA Head of Handicapping shall be final). Weights: 5yo 11st 9lb, 6yo+ 11st 10lb. Allowances: mares 7lb. Entries closed Tuesday, January 9, entries revealed Wednesday, January 10 (38 entries), scratchings deadline Tuesday, February 13, £27,500 supplementary entry stage & six-day confirmation stage Saturday, March 10. Final 48-hour declaration stage, 10.00am, Wednesday, March 14. Maximum number of runners – 24.
Horse Age Owner Trainer
ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS (FR) 8 Slaneyville Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
ANIBALE FLY (FR) 8 J P McManus Tony Martin IRE
BACHASSON (FR) 7 E O’Connell Willie Mullins IRE
BALKO DES FLOS (FR) 7 Gigginstown House Stud Henry de Bromhead IRE
BLAKLION 9 S Such & CG Paletta Nigel Twiston-Davies
BRISTOL DE MAI (FR) 7 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nigel Twiston-Davies
CLAN DES OBEAUX (FR) 6 Mr & Mrs P Barber, G Mason, Sir A Ferguson Paul Nicholls
CLOUDY DREAM (IRE) 8 Trevor Hemmings Malcolm Jefferson
CONEY ISLAND (IRE) 7 J P McManus Eddie Harty IRE
CONEYGREE 11 The Max Partnership Mark Bradstock
CUE CARD 12 Jean Bishop Colin Tizzard
DEFINITLY RED (IRE) 9 P J Martin Brian Ellison
DISKO (FR) 7 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE
DJAKADAM (FR) 9 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
DOUBLE SHUFFLE (IRE) 8 Crossed Fingers Partnership Tom George
EDWULF 9 J P McManus Joseph O’Brien IRE
EMPIRE OF DIRT (IRE) 11 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
KILLULTAGH VIC (IRE) 9 Rose Boyd/BAnderson/Mrs MArmstrong Willie Mullins IRE
MALA BEACH (IRE) 10 Chris Jones Gordon Elliott IRE
MIGHT BITE (IRE) 9 The Knot Again Partnership Nicky Henderson
MINELLA ROCCO (IRE) 8 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
NATIVE RIVER (IRE) 8 Brocade Racing Colin Tizzard
OUR DUKE (IRE) 8 Cooper Family Syndicate Jessica Harrington IRE
OUTLANDER (IRE) 10 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
ROAD TO RESPECT (IRE) 7 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE
ROCK THE KASBAH (IRE) 8 Diana Whateley Philip Hobbs
SAPHIR DU RHEU (FR) 9 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls
SHANTOU FLYER (IRE) 8 Carl Hinchy Richard Hobson
SINGLEFARMPAYMENT 8 N T Griffith & H M Haddock Tom George
SIZING JOHN 8 Ann & Alan Potts Limited Jessica Harrington IRE
SMAD PLACE (FR) 11 Mrs Peter Andrews Alan King
SUB LIEUTENANT (IRE) 9 Gigginstown House Stud Henry de Bromhead IRE
TEA FOR TWO 9 Jane Williams & Len Jakeman Nick Williams
TENOR NIVERNAIS (FR) 11 Boultbee Brooks Ltd Venetia Williams
THE LAST SAMURI (IRE) 10 Paul & Clare Rooney Kim Bailey
TOTAL RECALL (IRE) 9 Slaneyville Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
VALSEUR LIDO (FR) 9 Gigginstown House Stud Henry de Bromhead IRE
WHISPER (FR) 10 Walters Plant Hire Ltd Nicky Henderson
38 entries
18 Irish-trained
Breakdown of Entries by Trainer
5 entries
Willie Mullins IRE – Acapella Bourgeois, Bachasson, Djakadam, Killultagh Vic, Total Recall
3 entries
Henry de Bromhead IRE – Balko Des Flos, Sub Lieutenant, Valseur Lido
Gordon Elliott IRE – Empire Of Dirt, Mala Beach, Outlander
2 entries
Tom George – Double Shuffle, Singlefarmpayment
Jessica Harrington IRE – Our Duke, Sizing John
Nicky Henderson – Might Bite, Whisper
Noel Meade IRE – Disko, Road To Respect
Paul Nicholls – Clan Des Obeaux, Saphir Du Rheu
Colin Tizzard – Cue Card, Native River
Nigel Twiston-Davies – Blaklion, Bristol De Mai
1 entry
Kim Bailey – The Last Samuri
Mark Bradstock – Coneygree
Brian Ellison – Definitly Red
Eddie Harty IRE – Coney Island
Philip Hobbs – Rock The Kasbah
Richard Hobson – Shantou Flyer
Malcolm Jefferson – Cloudy Dream
Alan King – Smad Place
Tony Martin IRE – Anibale Fly
Joseph O’Brien IRE – Edwulf
Jonjo O’Neill – Minella Rocco
Nick Williams – Tea For Two
Venetia Williams – Tenor Nivernais


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