Saturday 25 February 2017

Cheltenham return on cards for Prince

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Last season's Cheltenham Festival winner Noble Prince could book a return ticket to Prestbury Park next month with a decent display at Naas on Saturday.

Paul Nolan's promising young chaser is among 51 entries that were unveiled yesterday for the Paddy Power Gold Cup on November 12. The sponsors rate Noble Prince at 14/1 for the Cheltenham showpiece, with the market headed by the Paul Nicholls-trained 5/1 shot Mon Parrain.

The Jewson Novices Chase winner -- which disappointed on the Flat at The Curragh recently -- is unlikely to get the decent ground which he enjoys in Saturday's Poplar Square Chase at Naas, but Nolan is anxious to get another run into him.

"All going well this week, I'd say it's more than likely he'll be going to Naas. Hopefully the ground isn't going to be too heavy there," said the Wexford handler. "With the rain we've had over the last few days, you're not going to get too much nice ground for a while. We've given him an entry at Cheltenham's November meeting, so we'll just see."

Other Irish entries in the Paddy Power include Willie Mullins' Galway Plate hero Blazing Tempo, Henry de Bromhead's Loosen My Load and Noel Meade's Muirhead, which won the recent Munster National with ease at Limerick and is set to run at Ascot this Saturday.

Muirhead and Blazing Tempo's names have also appeared in the list of entries for next month's Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. Along with Blazing Tempo, Mullins has put Uncle Junior and the 2009 RSA Chase winner Cooldine in that three-miler, while Gordon Elliott has entered Chicago Grey, winner of the four-miler at Cheltenham in March. Former Irish Hennessy winner Joncol is also engaged.

Of the 45 horses entered for the Greatwood Hurdle on the final day of Cheltenham's Open meeting, which runs from November 11-13, nine are Irish-based.

plan

Nicky Henderson's Punchestown Festival winner Grandouet is rated 8/1 favourite, with Sabrina Harty's Kalann the shortest-priced Irish entry at 16/1. Having seen her charge sluice up over course and distance recently, Harty revealed that the plan is to go back to Cheltenham in a fortnight's time.

"We were going to give Kalann a bit of a holiday," the Kildare handler said, "but he came back from Cheltenham so fresh that he could well go back there."

De Bromhead has also revealed that the reigning champion chaser Sizing Europe could drop back to two miles for the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on December 3. His stable star is one of several leading chasers that are being considered for Saturday week's JNwine.com Champion Chase over three miles at Down Royal. However, in nominating a Sandown novice hurdle for the recent Cheltenham scorer Sizing Symphony, De Bromhead added that plans are fluid for Sizing Europe.

"There's a two-and-a-half-mile Grade Two at Sandown," he said of Sizing Symphony's options. "It's the same weekend as the Tingle Creek -- Sizing Europe might go for that."

Of Sizing Europe's entry in the Down Royal showpiece on Saturday week, he said: "We're going to stay in that and follow it along. We'll see who's turning up -- we're keeping our options open."

Meanwhile, Elliott has suggested that the Troytown Chase at Navan on November 27 could be next on the agenda for Tharawaat, a facile winner under a big weight at Galway on Sunday.

Colm Murphy's Zaarito is a surprise entry in next Tuesday's big race at Exeter, the Betfred Haldon Gold Cup. If the mistake-prone gelding takes his chance, he will have to get the better of last season's Irish Independent Arkle Trophy hero Captain Chris, which spearheads the 14 entries.

Somersby could represent Henrietta Knight, while Nicholls has entered Royal Charm, Takeroc and Ghizao, and other interesting contenders include recent Limerick winner West With The Wind, and the Alan King-trained Medermit.

Irish Independent

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