23 REMAIN IN ROBIN COOK MEMORIAL GOLD CUP (sponsored by totesport) - David Johnson, Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls & Philip Hobbs outline their plans
A total of 23 horses remain engaged in the £110,000 Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport), the highlight of Cheltenham's December Meeting on Saturday, December 10. The Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) is race number 17 in the British Horseracing Board's Order of Merit series.
Martin Pipe has already collected the first big prize of the season with Our Vic, successful last month in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham. The seven-year-old is on course to try and become only the third horse to win both races in the same season, following on from Senor El Betrutti in 1997 and Pegwell Bay in 1988.
Owner David Johnson said today: "Our Vic has gone up 9lb for having won the Paddy Power Gold Cup, but he's a big horse and should carry the extra weight.
"I hope that lightning can strike twice. He has had a month off and is fit and fresh, but it is now in the lap of the gods as to whether he can win two big Cheltenham handicaps in a row."
Trainer Martin Pipe added: "I'm very pleased with Our Vic - he's very well at the moment."
Pipe, successful with Fragrant Dawn in 1993 and Northern Starlight in 1998, could also run It Takes Time, Therealbandit and Tango Royal.
Another trainer well represented is Nicky Henderson, who has the 2002 winner Fondmort, 2003 victor Iris Royal and Scots Grey still engaged.
The master of Seven Barrows said today: "All three are probable runners at the moment. The two definites are Fondmort and Scots Grey.
"Fondmort has 11st 6lb and this is the first time for a while he hasn't carried the top weight or near top weight. He was fourth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and Mick Fitzgerald sat on him on Saturday and we were very pleased with him.
"Scots Grey made a pleasing comeback when winning at Wincanton last month and we are looking forward to giving him another chance in a big race.
"I need to talk to the owner of Iris Royal [Sir Robert Ogden] as he is also entered in the Mears Group Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Friday."
Paul Nicholls has his team in fine form at the moment and the Ditcheat handler could bid to go one better with Thisthatandtother, who was second to Monkerhostin in this contest 12 months ago. This time around, he also has Armaturk and Le Passing engaged.
Nicholls commented: "All three might run. Thisthatandtother is a definite while Le Passing will run if the ground is soft. For Armaturk there are not many opportunities, so he could be in the field as well."
Lacdoudal was slightly disappointing when finishing sixth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup but put up a decent performance when landing the Future Stars Chase at Sandown last Friday.
His trainer Philip Hobbs said today: "I expect Lacdoudal will run. He's come out of his race at Sandown on Friday very well.
"Made In Japan could also line up. He's also got the option of the two-mile Jenny Mould Memorial Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday as well."
STRONG SUPPORTING RACES ON SATURDAY
In addition to the £110,000 Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup, Cheltenham hosts some fine supporting races on Saturday.
The £75,000 totesport Bula Hurdle, a Grade Two contest run over two miles and a furlong, could see a fascinating clash between leading Irish hurdler Harchibald, who finished second in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, and Faasel, one of the top novice hurdlers of last season who ran second on his reappearance at Haydock on November 19.
Other entries include Royal Shakespeare, winner of the totesport.com Elite Hurdle at Wincanton in November, Penzance, who just got the better of Faasel in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, plus decent performers Westender, Intersky Falcon, Akilak and Phar Bleu.
The £20,000 Relkeel Hurdle, run over an extended two miles and five furlongs, features a number of interesting entries, including Moulin Riche from the Francois Doumen stable, who took the Brit Insurance Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, Brewster, trained by Ian Williams, one of last season's top staying novice hurdlers, and The Market Man, who won impressively last time at Newbury on November 25,
Fassel and Akilak, who also hold engagements in the totesport Bula Hurdle (see above), My Way De Solzen, Mighty Man, Don't Be Shy and Pennyrose Bay are other possibles for the race.
The £30,000 Brit Insurance Novices' Hurdle (due off at 3:45pm), a Grade Two affair run over three miles, could feature some of the best staying novices seen so far this season.
The entries are headed by Jonjo O'Neill's Black Jack Ketchum, unbeaten in four starts and an authoritative winner at Cheltenham last time out over two miles and five furlongs at the Open Meeting in the Gideon Kasler Novices' Hurdle. Other interesting entries include Rimsky, Gungadu, Mister Quasimodo and the Francois Doumen-trained Innox, better known for his exploits over fences.
The ground at Cheltenham is currently GOOD TO SOFT on all courses.
Last Thursday and Friday saw 3mm of rain fall at the course, while conditions were dry over the weekend.
Admission prices on both Friday, December 9 and Saturday, December 10 - Club/Tattersalls combined £20, 16-24-year-olds £12; Best Mate Enclosure £8.
Accompanied children under 16 enjoy FREE entry while car parking is also FREE.
For further information, please contact Peter McNeile, Cheltenham's Commercial Manager, on 01242 537600 or on his mobile 07850 091523
THE ROBIN COOK MEMORIAL GOLD CUP (SPONSORED BY totesport)
Class A, Grade Three, £110,000 Total Prize Fund. 2.40pm, Cheltenham, Saturday, December 10. For 5yo+, two miles, five furlongs. Penalties: after November 26, a winner of a Class C chase 4lb; of a class A or B chase 6lb (no penalty to increase a horse's weight above 11st 12lb). Entries closed November 23, entries revealed November 24 (52 entries), weights revealed November 30, five-day confirmation stage December 5 (23 remain), final declaration stage 10.00am, December 9. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Sunday, December 4.
Form Horse Age/Wgt Owner Trainer
13/FPP-1 OUR VIC (IRE) 7-11-12 David Johnson Martin Pipe
22214-3 THISTHATANDTOTHER (IRE) 9-11-11 Graham Roach Paul Nicholls
3036-15 ARMATURK (FR) 8-11-07 Trevor Hemmings Paul Nicholls
31042-4 IT TAKES TIME (IRE) 11-11-06 David Johnson Martin Pipe
0002P-4 FONDMORT (FR) 9-11-06 Bill Brown Nicky Henderson
20330-0 THEREALBANDIT (IRE) 8-11-04 David Johnson Martin Pipe
3224-161 LACDOUDAL (FR) 6-10-11 Carol Skan Philip Hobbs
1301-26 QUAZAR (IRE) 7-10-11 C D Carr Jonjo O'Neill
0341-10 BROOKLYN BREEZE (IRE) 8-10-09 Ashleybank Investments Limited Len Lungo
12553-44 LE PASSING (FR) 6-10-09 The Hon Mrs & J R Townshend Paul Nicholls
111P2/-6 IRIS ROYAL (FR) 9-10-07 Sir Robert Ogden Nicky Henderson
0055-01 SCOTS GREY 10-10-07 Henry Ponsonby Nicky Henderson
34046-32 MADE IN JAPAN (JPN) 5-10-07 Terry Evans Philip Hobbs
62-1600 TANGO ROYAL (FR) 9-10-06 Brian Kilpatrick Martin Pipe
10/2214/- PATRICKSNINETEENTH (IRE) 8-10-06 The Large G & T Partnership Paul Webber
0FU-2P62 RISK ACCESSOR (IRE) 10-10-04 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
F0B0-0P2 EUROPA 9-10-04 Trevor Hemmings Ferdy Murphy
121P14/- OUR ARMAGEDDON (NZ) 8-10-03 Leslie Garrett Richard Guest
41461-20 MIXSTERTHETRIXSTER (USA)9-10-02 Tracey Barfoot-Saunt Tracey Barfoot-Saunt
2000-2F0 REDEMPTION 10-10-02 John Duggan & Michael Purtill Nigel Twiston-Davies
34-1114 TIGERS LAIR (IRE) 6-9-13 Gay Smith Jonjo O'Neill
U504-65 SIR OJ (IRE) 8-9-12 Brian Keenan Noel Meade IRE
0/5/4-23F HALEXY (FR) 10-9-10 Sir Robert Ogden Jonjo O'Neill
23 entries remain at five-day confirmation stage
RECORD OF TRAINERS WITH ENTRIES IN THE THE ROBIN COOK MEMORIAL GOLD CUP (sponsored by totesport)
Tracey Barfoot-Saunt (Mixterthetrixster)
No previous runners
Richard Guest (Our Armageddon)
No previous runners
Nicky Henderson (Fondmort, Iris Royal, Scots Grey)
1983 2 The Tsarevich
1984 2 Classified
1984 6 The Tsarevich
1992 4 Freeline Finishing
1993 3 Freeline Finishing
1996 P Big Matt
1999 P Stormyfairweather
2002 1 FONDMORT
2003 1 IRIS ROYAL
2004 7 Fondmort
2004 UR Scots Grey
Philip Hobbs (Lacdoudal, Made In Japan)
1989 P Joint Sovereignty
1997 3 Bells Life
1998 4 Dr Leunt
1998 6 Stormy Passage
1999 4 Stormy Passage
2000 4 In The Blood
2002 7 Wave Rock
2004 1 MONKERHOSTIN
2004 F Farmer Jack
Len Lungo (Brooklyn Breeze)
No previous runners
Noel Meade IRE (Sir Oj)
2000 P Hill Society
Ferdy Murphy (Europa)
1993 P Brandeston
2003 7 Ballinclay King
2004 3 Europa
Paul Nicholls (Armaturk, Le Passing, Thisthatandtother)
1998 3 Mr Strong Gale
1999 3 Irbee
2000 8 Soldat
2002 5 Fadalko
2003 4 Royal Auclair
2003 6 Armaturk
2004 2 Thisthatandtother
2004 4 Armaturk
Jonjo O'Neill (Halexy, Quazar, Risk Accessor, Tigers Lair)
1998 5 All The Aces
1999 1 LEGAL RIGHT
Martin Pipe (It Takes Time, Our Vic, Tango Royal, Therealbandit)
1988 2 Beau Ranger
1989 5 Rusch De Farges
1992 F Milford Quay
1993 1 FRAGRANT DAWN
1996 7 All For Luck
1997 2 Challenger Du Luc
1998 1 NORTHERN STARLIGHT
1999 5 Northern Starlight
2000 6 Exit Swinger
2000 7 Blowing Wind
2002 4 Cyfor Malta
2002 9 Exit Swinger
2003 5 It Takes Time
2004 UR Redemption
2004 F Our Vic
Nigel Twiston-Davies (Redemption)
1991 5 Tipping Tim
1992 3 Tipping Tim
1993 2 Young Hustler
1994 7 Tipping Tim
1998 P Queen Of Spades
2003 P Eskleybrook
2003 F Redemption
Paul Webber (Patricksnineteenth)
No previous runners
ROBERT COOPER NAMED BROADCASTER OF THE YEAR
At The Races, the UK and Ireland's most watched dedicated racing channel, is delighted to announce that Robert Cooper has been named Broadcaster of the Year at the prestigious HPWA Derby Awards lunch, the 39th, held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London today.
Robert was presented the award by Sir Peter O'Sullevan, beating strong competition from some of the UK's leading racing presenters including fellow ATR colleague, Mike Cattermole. The Awards are voted for by the members of the Horserace Writers and Photographers Association.
Matthew Imi, Chief Executive, ATR said: "Everyone at ATR sends their congratulations to Robert. He really is a master in his field and for many years now has delivered work of the highest quality in his own inimitable style. It is great news for ATR to have two of our presenters nominated and voted for by their peers in the industry. It underlines our view that we have the best line up in racing."