PIPE ON WEATHER WATCH AHEAD OF BOYLESPORTS.COM GOLD CUP
*OSANA AMONG 14 ENTRIES FOR BOYLESPORTS.COM INTERNATIONAL*
Meeting - The Boylesports International, Dates - Friday, December 14 & Saturday, December 15
Advance Admission Prices - Friday, Club/Tattersalls £18, Best Mate £8; Saturday, Club £27, Tattersalls £20, Best Mate £10
Gates Open - 10am all days
First race - 12.10pm Friday, 12.20pm Saturday
Somerset trainer David Pipe is keeping an eye on the weather ahead of the prestigious £150,000 Grade Three Boylesports.com Gold Cup (2.40pm) on Saturday, December 15, for which he has three horses among the 22 remaining entries at today’s five-day confirmation stage.
The Pond House handler is yet to finalise running plans for the two mile, five furlong contest but reports his charges to be in good order at present. The trio consists of Vodka Bleu (20/1), Tamarinbleu (16/1) and Abragante who is currently 7/1 second favourite with sponsor Boylesports.
Abragante won the Listed Badger Ales Trophy Chase over an extended three miles and a furlong at Wincanton in November on his return from a summer break, but was no match for the mighty Denman when 10th in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup on soft ground at Newbury on December 1.
Pipe revealed today: “All three horses are in good heart but we’ll see what the ground is like before making firm plans. Abragante and Vodka Bleu are owned by David Johnson, so I would imagine only one of those will run, but we’ll decide closer to the day.
“Abragante ran okay in the Hennessy last time but Denman was in a different league. Probably a bit better ground would help his cause.”
Vodka Bleu, runner-up in the 2006 Paddy Power Gold Cup, could take the opportunity to improve on a disappointing effort when 15th to L’Antartique in this year’s running of the Grade Three contest at The Open on November 17. Tamarinbleu, owned by the Arthur White Partnership, would be having his first start since winning a valuable three-mile contest at Perth in June.
Pipe continued: “Vodka Bleu seems well at the moment and they say it’s good ground, so if it stays that way he would like that and could take his chance in the Boylesports.com Gold Cup.
“Tamarinbleu is in there as well but is also entered at Ascot the following week, so we’ll see.”
Boylesports make the Paul Nicholls-trained New Little Bric the 11/2 market leader, with Il Duce, who filled the runner-up berth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup for trainer Alan King, an 8/1 shot, the same price as Palarshan, who was fourth that day for Shropshire handler Henry Daly.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Knowhere, third in the Paddy Power and subsequently fifth in the Hennessy, is set to carry top-weight of 11st 12lb and is rated an 11/1 chance, as is the Ferdy Murphy-trained New Alco.
The lucrative £200,000 Grade Two Boylesports.com International (3.10pm) over two miles and a furlong is one of the premier trials for the Grade One Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at The Festival in March and could see the Pipe-trained Osana test his mettle against reigning champion Sublimity.
The five-year-old ran with great credit on his seasonal debut in the Grade Three Greatwood Hurdle at The Open, when he carried top-weight of 11st 12lb on soft ground to take the runner-up spot, four lengths behind Sizing Europe who was in receipt of 6lb.
Pipe reported: “Osana is well and could go for the Boylesports.com International, although he’s also in at Ascot the week after so we’re not decided yet.
“He’s a very good horse and we’re happy with his progress.”
The fantastic Boylesports.com International has a 14-strong entry, which includes the Noel Meade-trained dual Grade One winner Jazz Messenger and fellow Irish raider and triple Grade One hero Mac’s Joy, trained by Jessica Harrington.
Other entries are the Alan King-trained Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle winner Katchit who is bidding to maintain his 100% record at the course, the Nicky Henderson-trained Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle third Afsoun and Grade One victor Straw Bear from Nick Gifford’s Findon yard.
The fantastic two-day Boylesports.com International kicks off on Friday, December 14, with a competitive seven-race card, the highlight of which is the £100,000 Listed Boylesports.com Cashback Handicap Chase (1.20pm) over an extended three miles and a furlong.
A high quality entry for the lucrative prize includes the Francois Doumen-trained L’Ami, third in the Grade Three Servo Computer Services Trophy at The Open in November, as well as the runner-up that day, Cornish Sett, who is one of four entries for champion trainer Paul Nicholls.
Grade One winner Kingscliff from the Robert Alner yard and the classy Philip Hobbs-trained Monkerhostin could also line up alongside last season’s Grade Three Racing Post Chase hero Simon, trained by John Spearing.
Nicky Richards may saddle Grade One Royal & SunAlliance Chase third According To John, while Irish raider Knight Legend is likely to take his chance for trainer Jessica Harrington.
The retirement of the amazing cross country steeplechase specialist Spot Thedifference leaves the way open for a new star to emerge in the £23,000 BGC Cross Country Chase (1.55pm) over three miles, seven furlongs.
Spot Thedifference, who retired in a blaze of glory with victory in the BGC Cross Country Chase at The Open in November, won this race in 2004 and 2006 and the old favourite’s trainer Enda Bolger has three engaged including Heads Onthe Ground who won the BGC Cross Country Chase at The Festival in March.
Bolger’s other entries are Freneys Well, runner-up to Spot Thedifference in the La Touche Cup at Punchestown and Garde Champetre, formerly with trainer Jonjo O’Neill.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Imperial Commander has won both his chase starts this term at Cheltenham and could bid for Prestbury Park treble in the £15,000 Cheltenham Business Club Novices’ Chase (12.45pm) over an extended three miles and a furlong, although he is also engaged in the following day’s £20,000 Boylesports.com Fon-A-Bet Novices’ Chase (2.05pm) over two miles, five furlongs.
The 17 entries for Friday’s race also include recent winners Michael Muck, Joe Lively, Ornais, Sprosser and Trigger The Light.
Recent Haydock winner Millenium Royal heads the 36 entries for what looks a cracking running of the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle (Qualifier) due off at 3.05pm, while the Paul Nicholls-trained I’msingingtheblues, impressive when winning the Grade Two Anglo Irish Bank Private Banking Novices’ Hurdle at The Open is among 36 engaged in the £15,000 EBF/Boylesports.com National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle (3.40pm).
LATEST BOYLESPORTS PRICES ON THE Boylesports.com GOLD CUP
11/2 New Little Bric
8/1 Il Duce
14/1 Howle Hill
14/1 Roman Ark
16/1 Idole First
Each-Way: 1/4 the odds - 1,2,3,4
Leon Blanche, Sports Betting Spokesman for Boylesports, said: “New Little Bric was 12/1 when we opened the book and is now into 11/2 and is our worst loser.
“Il Duce has been the other one for money, coming into 8/1 from 12/1.”
LATEST BOYLESPORTS PRICES ON THE Boylesports.com INTERNATIONAL
4/1 Jazz Messenger (With a Run)
6/1 Macs Joy
8/1 Straw Bear
50/1 Pigeon Island
66/1 Platin Grounds
Each-Way: 1/5 the odds 1,2,3
The going at Cheltenham is currently GOOD on both the Chase & Hurdle Course and the Cross Country Course.
Cheltenham experienced six millimetres of rain over the weekend and the GoingStick reading is currently 7.8 on the Chase & Hurdle course.
The forecast is for a generally dry week with some light rain possible later on Monday and around one or two millimetres on Wednesday.
Ground temperatures could get down to minus two Celsius and frost covers will be utilised if necessary.