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Nicholls fires Denman shot

Paul Nicholls has warned Denman should not be written off for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup despite his lacklustre display in the Aon Chase earlier this month.

Racegoers at Newbury were left aghast as the 10-year-old unshipped champion jockey Tony McCoy after a couple of jumping errors and he was universally eased for the highlight of the Cheltenham Festival.

The sponsors have him at 11/4 to see off his stablemate and 4/6 favourite Kauto Star on March 19.

Nicholls pointed to a lazy workout at Exeter prior to Denman's thumping Hennessy win as an example of his character, and said: "I am not too perturbed by what happened at Newbury and they can't win every time.

"He made a mistake at Newbury and paid the penalty.

"He will have three weeks of seriously hard graft before the Gold Cup. What people said about Tony McCoy not suiting him is twaddle and you can write him off at your peril."

Confidence in Kim for Kappa

Nigel Twiston-Davies remains ultra confident about the chance of Khyber Kim in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham next month.

The eight-year-old has looked to be back to his very best this campaign, slamming Celestial Halo in the Boylesports.com International Hurdle in December.

He has not been seen since, but Twiston-Davies said: "I think he is still a nice price at 8/1 or whatever he is. We hope the staying types will set the race up for us and we'll come storming along at the end."

The Gloucestershire handler also had an upbeat bulletin on his Gold Cup hope Imperial Commander.

Twiston-Davies said: "He seems in very good condition. Let's go back to his favourite track (Cheltenham) and see what happens."

Webber right behind Rupert

Paul Webber believes Time For Rupert has solid each-way prospects in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The six-year-old took a competitive handicap hurdle over three miles at the Prestbury Park track in December before going down by five lengths to a rejuvenated Tidal Bay in the Cleeve Hurdle there last month.

"He's very well indeed and we couldn't be happier with him," said the Banbury trainer. "I think he's got each-way claims. Time For Rupert is 16s. I hope it stays wet ground as that will suit us better than one or two others."