Sunday 22 October 2017

Hourigan eyeing revenge with Tornado

Michael Hourigan. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile
Michael Hourigan. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile

Michael Hourigan is not afraid of taking on Little Josh again in the December Gold Cup with Dancing Tornado.

The pair were first and second in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last month but the Irish raider will be 3lb better off back at Prestbury Park a week on Saturday.



However, with current conditions Arctic-like, there has to be some doubt whether the meeting will take place.



"It's more than likely that Dancing Tornado (10st 11lb) will return to Cheltenham for the December Gold Cup. We were very pleased with his run in the Paddy Power and he came out of the race fine," said Hourigan.



"Tony McCoy always said that a big handicap chase at Cheltenham would be the ideal race as they would go a decent gallop.



"Dancing Tornado would be racing off a higher mark but we will take that on the chin, especially as we will be meeting Little Josh on better terms.



"Hopefully, the racing will be on and his jockey will be decided nearer the time. Tony rode him when he was second in last year's Kerry National whereas Adrian Heskin would be able to take 5lb off again."



Nigel Twiston-Davies claimed Little Josh's (11st 4lb) win was one of his best days in racing as his son Sam was on board but while he has his improving chaser in great heart, he doubts the meeting will be on.



"He's in tremendous form and the idea is that he'll be running at Cheltenham but I don't live far from there and it's looking doubtful to me that it will be on," he told At The Races.



"It was a great day, one of the best. It adds to the pressure when Sam rides because everybody knows it is a family thing. He has to be doubly-good for me to put him up really."



Another with the race as an option is Henrietta Knight's Calgary Bay (10st 6lb).



"The December Gold Cup is a possibility for Calgary Bay at the moment, although a lot will depend on the weather improving ahead of next weekend," she said.



"The race he was second in at Bangor was a very trappy race and Calgary Bay is not really a two-miler - the winner was a lot quicker over that trip - and it is a bit difficult to place him at the moment because he hasn't really got a distance.



"He won over three miles at Doncaster last season and was also successful over the same trip of the December Gold Cup in the Grade Two Dipper Novices' Chase. He always runs a good race around Cheltenham and I don't think that he would mind what the ground was like."



Paul Nicholls' Poquelin is due to carry top weight of 11st 12lb should he bid to win the race for a second successive year.



Nicky Henderson has a strong hand with Paddy Power Gold Cup fourth Mad Max (11st 6lb), dual course winner French Opera (11st 7lb), Working Title (10st 1lb) and Dave's Dream (10st 11lb), winner of the paddypower.com Handicap Chase at The Open, among the potential contenders.



The 10 Irish-trained entries include the Tony Martin-trained pair of recent Naas winner Psycho (11st 1lb) and Northern Alliance (10st 10lb), as well as the Jessica Harrington-trained Roberto Goldback (11st 5lb).

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