Friday 23 June 2017

Top-class entry for Cheltenham trials day

JP McManus. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
JP McManus. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Thomas Kelly

Classy JP McManus hurdling recruit Unowhatimeanharry is to put his long unbeaten run on the line in Saturday's Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham, for which 15 horses have been entered.

Since joining Harry Fry's yard, the nine-year-old - bought privately by McManus before his seasonal return at Newbury - has won seven on the bounce, including the Albert Bartlett in March and the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot last month.

There are two former winners of the Grade Two among the entry in Reve De Sivola (2013) and the 14-year-old Knockara Beau (2014). The latter is set to run in this race for a fifth time, having also finished second once and fourth twice and his trainer George Charlton issued an upbeat bulletin.

"He had a race at Carlisle and was third when he was carrying 13lb more than the winner (Milborough) and a stone more than the second. He's well in himself. He likes Cheltenham better than Carlisle, so we're going to go there."

Warren Greatrex has entered Cole Harden, winner of the 2015 Stayers' Hurdle, and Shantou Bob, but there are no entries from this side of the Irish Sea.

Ballyoptic, which fell at the final flight when just headed by Unowhatimeanharry in the Long Walk, has been put in by trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, while Paul Nicholls could be double-handed with Ptit Zig and Old Guard.

The McManus-owned More Of That is a surprise contender for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase on the same card. Jonjo O'Neill has entered the 2014 World Hurdle winner over the unique course, and he remains the only horse in training to have beaten Champion Hurdle winner Annie Power when she has completed.

However, the nine-year-old has looked a shadow of his former self in three runs this season and connections could now be going in a different direction. More Of That is one of 15 entries which include Enda Bolger's course winner Cantlow, the Martin Keighley-trained veteran Any Currency, Alelchi Inois from Willie Mullins' yard and Gordon Elliott's Cause Of Causes.

There are some classy entries in the Hugo's Restaurant Barbados Trophy Handicap Chase, with Kylemore Lough, Top Gamble, Royal Regatta and Shantou Flyer all listed. Elliott has entered Noble Endeavor, winner of the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown, and The Game Changer.

Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack heads the cast for the featured Cotswold Chase, which has also attracted the last two winners of the contest - Smad Place from the Alan King yard and Oliver Sherwood's Many Clouds - while Silviniaco Conti, Vicente and Le Mercurey could represent Nicholls.

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