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Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Meeting: The International
Dates: Friday & Saturday - December 10 & 11
Gates Open: 10.00am both days
First Race: 12.10pm Friday, 12.10pm Saturday
Admission prices from £9. Go to www.cheltenham.co.uk for further information

A total of 32 horses have been entered in the £150,000 Grade Three December Gold Cup (2.30pm) one of the highlights of the second day of The International at Cheltenham on Saturday, December 11.

First run in 1963 and staged over two miles and five furlongs on the New Course, the December Gold Cup is the second major handicap chase of the season at Cheltenham, following on from the Paddy Power Gold Cup which took place at The Open on Saturday, November 13. Over the years, a total of eight horses have managed to win both races, with three of those achieving the feat in the same season. The most recent winner of both races in the same season was Exotic Dancer in 2006.

Little Josh was the pillar to post winner of the 2010 Paddy Power Gold Cup and is likely to try and become the fourth horse to complete the double in the same season for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies. The local Naunton handler could also be represented by Pigeon Island, whose finest hour came when successful in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase at The Festival last season.

A horse that may make its debut for a new trainer in the December Gold Cup is Sports Line. The seven-year-old, who is now under the care of Donald McCain, was previously trained by Willie Mullins and twice gained places at Grade One level last season, including on his latest start at Punchestown in April when third behind Captain Cee Bee.

McCain revealed: “We have given Sports Line an entry in the December Gold Cup and the race is an option for him. He’s been given a rating of 149, so we are going to have to aim him at the big handicap chases and we will have a look at the Kelso Champion Chase as well. It makes sense to keep our options open at the moment with the weather turning a little bit.

“I was sent the horse by one of the part-owners a little over six weeks ago and he is a smashing horse to get. I spoke to Willie Mullins and he thought that Sports Line would get further than two miles when he learns to settle, so we will be trying to go that route with him. Unless I run him in the Tingle Creek, there are no two-mile chases for him.

“He ran well in the Irish Arkle on heavy ground last season and he is a big, strong horse so soft ground shouldn’t be a hindrance for him.”

Several of the horses that chased home Little Josh in the Paddy Power Gold Cup could renew rivalry on December 11, including the runner-up Dancing Tornado, fourth-placed Mad Max, the fifth Poquelin and the sixth Great Endeavour.

Poquelin, one of five entries for champion trainer Paul Nicholls, was the impressive seven-length winner of the December Gold Cup in 2009 and would become the first horse to win the prestigious contest twice should he prevail again. The Nicholls-trained contingent also includes 2006 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle victor Noland, last seen out when scoring in Grade One company at Leopardstown in 2008, Breedsbreeze, winner of the Grade One Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton in 2008, 2009 Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase victor Chapoturgeon and Robinson Collonges, a facile winner of two of his three starts in novice company this term.

Dancing Tornado is one of 10 entries trained in Ireland. Other possible contenders from Ireland include Scotsirish, Finger Onthe Pulse, successful in the Galway Plate in August but a disappointment in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, the Tony Martin-trained duo of Northern Alliance and Psycho, Jayo, Duers, Gonebeyondrecall and Roberto Goldback. Noel Meade, Jayo’s trainer, provided the most recent Irish winner of the December Gold Cup, Sir Oj, in 2005.

Trainers Nicky Henderson and Jonjo O’Neill boast the best records of any current handlers in the December Gold Cup, with both having landed the race twice. This year Henderson has engaged the aforementioned Paddy Power Gold Cup fourth Mad Max as well as French Opera, twice a winner at Cheltenham, Dave’s Dream, who recorded an impressive triumph in the paddypower.com Handicap Chase over two miles at Cheltenham on November 12 and Working Title, who has won his last two races over hurdles. O’Neill’s one possible starter is Sunnyhillboy, runner up to Great Endeavour in the Byrne Group Plate at The Festival and seventh on his latest appearance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.

Weights for the December Gold Cup will be revealed on Wednesday, December 1.

The second day of The International also features the £150,000 Grade Two StanJames.com International (3.05pm) which is sponsored by the leading bookmaker for the first time as part of “The Road The Cheltenham” which culminates in the Grade One Stan James Champion Hurdle at The Festival.

A fascinating renewal of the two mile, one furlong contest is set to include the Philip Hobbs-trained Menorah, who has been victorious on both his previous visits to Cheltenham in the Grade One Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival in March and in the Grade Three Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at The Open on November 14.

Paul Nicholls is also aiming Silviniaco Conti at the StanJames.com International after the unbeaten four-year-old posted an emphatic seven-length success in the Grade Two Ascot Hurdle on Saturday.

Saturday’s card also includes a pair of Grade Two contests - the three-mile £25,000 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (1.55pm) and the £35,000 Unicoin Homes Relkeel Hurdle (3.40pm) over an extended two and a half miles.

Highlights of the first day of The International, Friday, December 10 include the Listed £40,000 www.maxwell-drummond.com Handicap Chase (1.50pm), which was won in 2008 by subsequent Grand National victor Mon Mome, and the £22,500 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (1.15pm), run over Cheltenham’s unique cross country course.

Class One, Grade Three, £150,000 Total Prize Fund. 2.30pm, Cheltenham, Saturday, December 11, 2010. For four-year-olds & upwards, two miles & five furlongs. Penalties: after November 28, a winner of a chase 5lb - no penalty to increase a horse’s weight above 11st 12lb. Entries closed November 23, entries released November 24 (32 entries), weights revealed December 1, five-day confirmation stage December 6, final declaration stage, 10.00am, December 9. For figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to & including the racing of Monday, November 22.

Form Horse Age Owner Trainer
10/111F/- BREEDSBREEZE (IRE) 8 Jim Lewis, Markus Jooste, Malcolm King Paul Nicholls
164-562 CALGARY BAY (IRE) 7 Camilla Radford Henrietta Knight
2/F400B- CHAPOTURGEON (FR) 6 David Johnson Paul Nicholls
R-32022 DANCING TORNADO (IRE) 9 J P McManus Michael Hourigan IRE
6/1340-1 DAVE'S DREAM (IRE) 7 David Murdoch & Jenny Murdoch Nicky Henderson
505241 DUERS (IRE) 8 Kate Kelly/Kate Ronan Paul Magnier IRE
6/11121- FRENCH OPERA 7 Judy Wilson & Martin Landau Nicky Henderson
0F4112 GONEBEYONDRECALL (IRE) 7 Noel Glynn Noel Glynn IRE
31441-6 GREAT ENDEAVOUR (IRE) 6 David Johnson David Pipe
55206F- JAYO (FR) 7 Peter Garvey Willie Mullins IRE
2133F-2 JERED (IRE) 8 J P McManus Noel Meade IRE
1F16-11 LITTLE JOSH (IRE) 8 Tony Bloom Nigel Twiston-Davies
0/1341-4 MAD MAX (IRE) 8 Carole Skipworth & Paul Murphy Nicky Henderson
U133F-1 MATUHI 7 Willsford Racing Incorporated David Pipe
04P-010 MOON OVER MIAMI (GER) 9 Safest Syndicate 3 Charlie Mann
116-313 NOBLE ALAN (GER) 7 Craig Bennett Nicky Richards
1132/11/- NOLAND 9 John Hales Paul Nicholls
041P-55 NORTHERN ALLIANCE (IRE) 9 Irish Rover Syndicate Tony Martin IRE
1411-05 PICKAMUS (FR) 7 Neville Statham & Family Henry Daly
F510-30 PIGEON ISLAND 7 Raymond Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies
212U-25 POQUELIN (FR) 7 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls
21/201-U PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE (FR) 7 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson
1011F-4 PSYCHO (IRE) 9 Exors of The Late C McClure Tony Martin IRE
113FB-2 ROBERTO GOLDBACK (IRE) 8 J P Dunne Jessica Harrington IRE
124-1F1 ROBINSON COLLONGES (FR) 5 Mr & Mrs G Calder Paul Nicholls
31620-3 SCOTSIRISH (IRE) 9 Double R Stables Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
11/1203- SPORTS LINE (IRE) 7 Tony Killoran Donald McCain Jnr
410/1P-1 SUMMERY JUSTICE (IRE) 6 Mrs H Brown Venetia Williams
15312-0 SUNNYHILLBOY (IRE) 7 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
1300-50 THE SAWYER (BEL) 10 D R Fear Bob Buckler
F20-611 WORKING TITLE (IRE) 8 Auld Hayes & Murphy Nicky Henderson

32 Entries
10 Irish trained

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