Sunday 19 November 2017

Diamond out of Gold Cup

Thomas Kelly

LEADING Gold Cup contender Diamond Harry was last night ruled out of the Cheltenham showpiece.

Winner of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November, when he had Denman behind him, the Nick Williams-trained eight-year-old had been as short as 8/1 in places for steeplechasing's blue riband event.

Owner Paul Duffy said: "He's got a suspensory ligament problem, as I understand it from Nick. It was diagnosed today by the vet, so unfortunately he is out of the Gold Cup and that will be it for the season.

"Nick reckons he will need to rest for around four months given the nature of his situation. It's not as serious as a tendon injury, thankfully, but that's the ups and downs of racing I'm afraid."

Meanwhile, confidence is growing behind Dunguib as Philip Fenton aims his stable star towards a crack at the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday week.

The Co Tipperary trainer reports the eight-year-old to be all the better for his comeback win at Gowran Park last month after being off the track since April.

"Everything is fine, it's so far so good and we're not far away from it now. I couldn't be happier with him. All has gone to plan.

"He's come out of his Gowran race very well and all roads lead to Cheltenham," said Fenton.

"He did a bit of work on Wednesday and we were very pleased. It's always a good Champion Hurdle, but this year seems to be above average. We'd like to think we have a good chance."

Dunguib will be making his third successive appearance at the Festival. Winner of the Champion Bumper in 2009, he was third to fellow Champion Hurdle rival Menorah in the Supreme Novices' when sent off the 4/5 favourite.

The Alan Fleming-trained Starluck, which won his sole start over fences when 4/9 in a four-runner race at Huntingdon, will not be heading to Cheltenham after the grey was ruled out of the Irish Independent Arkle Chase.

Fleming believes his stable star needs more experience over fences before being pitched into the top grade and he has earmarked a novice chase at Sandown next Saturday week before a possible trip to Punchestown.

Elsewhere, owner Fitri Hay has purchased a "significant interest" in Aidan O'Brien's Dubai World Cup hopeful Cape Blanco. The colt won the Irish Derby and the Irish Champion Stakes last season and is being prepared at Ballydoyle for the world's richest race. The four-year-old son of Galileo will remain in training with O'Brien, racing in the colours of Hay.

Irish Independent

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