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Tough choice: Punjabi or Zaynar ride in Champion Albetas set for Ascot Run as Festival options weighed up Aussie rides will see Cosgriff make Gloucestershire history

Barry Geraghty is in no hurry to choose between Punjabi or Zaynar as his ride in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The Irish jockey won the Champion last year on Punjabi, but also partnered Zaynar to victory in last year's Triumph Hurdle.

Both horses are trained by Nicky Henderson, and Geraghty admits it will be a tough decision: "It's very hard to split them. The Champion Hurdle is a wide-open race. We will have to wait and see closer to the time."



No race prep for Loosen My Load ahead of riband event

Henry de Bromhead's novice hurdler Loosen My Load is set to head straight for the Cheltenham Festival without another run.

The six-year-old has only lost once in five starts and was last seen scoring in Grade Two company at Cheltenham in November.

He was then given a break, having been on the go during the summer, but a clash with Dunguib in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle last weekend was given a swerve.

A decision on which race he contests next month will also be taken nearer the time. "We are trying to get him ready for Cheltenham," said De Bromhead. "We missed the Deloitte last weekend so I'd say he'll be going straight there (Cheltenham) now. He's entered in both the two-mile and the two-mile-five novices' hurdles so we'll just see what will happen."



Albetas set for Ascot Run as Festival options weighed up

Albertas Run is set to tackle the Ascot Chase on Saturday week as connections consider his Cheltenham options.

The nine-year-old won the RSA Chase in 2008 but has struggled to make his top-rank mark since graduating to full company.

He still scored a deserved success over two miles and three furlongs at Ascot last November and is set to head back there.

"He's in good form, and will be going to Ascot for the two-mile-five-furlong chase," confirmed trainer Jonjo O'Neill.

Albertas Run is entered in both the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, a race in which he finished ninth last year, and the shorter Ryanair Chase at next month's Festival, but he would need the ground on his side if he were to tackle the main event.



Aussie rides will see Cosgriff make Gloucestershire history

History is set to be made at this year's Festival as trainer Anthony Cosgriff is set to saddle the first runners from Australia.

Cosgriff, a former vet in Middleham, has brought over Gorge and Onajet, both of whom are lodging at Mark Johnston's yard.

"Gorge has settled in very well. He can be highly strung and he was getting himself very stressed in the first 48 hours or so, but that's not abnormal for him," said Cosgriff.

"We changed a few things with his routine and it's good that he has Onajet with him. He's eating everything and his weight is basically right on ideal because he didn't lose a lot coming over.

"Richie McGrath gave him a first schooling session with Onajet on Monday and everything went well. It's pretty unbelievable that we have managed to get so much done in the space of five days.

"Most of Gorge's best runs in Australia have come on the back of a two-week break so I am hoping to give him a prep run in the Premier Kelso Hurdle on March 6."

Cosgriff admits that Onajet would have to improve on what he has shown so far to be competitive at the Festival.

"Onajet is more of a big, tall, chasing-type horse and it would be interesting to see how he got on in a chase over here (Britain).

"The fences are so much higher than anything he is used to back home, so we decided to start him off over hurdles and see what happens. We've pencilled him in for a maiden hurdle over two and a half miles at Ayr on February 25 but the trip over here tired him out and he has been quiet since arriving at Middleham."


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