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Twiston-Davies hoping Al Dancer can hand him fifth success as 17 stand ground for Paddy Power Gold Cup

Press Release 9th November 2020 Cheltenham

By race news

The 2020/21 Jump season really gets into gear this Saturday, 14 November with the £130,000 G3 Paddy Power Gold Cup, the highlight of The November Meeting at Cheltenham. First run in 1960, the famous two and a half mile handicap chase has been landed by some great performers with Fortria, Dunkirk, Gay Trip and Imperial Commander all featuring on the roll of honour.

Paddy Power return to sponsoring the contest in 2020, having previously been the backer between 2002 and 2015. Heading Paddy Power’s market at 4/1 for the 2020 running is Saint Sonnet (Paul Nicholls). The unexposed five-year-old won on his British debut at Catterick in February and was not beaten far on his only subsequent UK appearance when seventh behind Samcro in the G1 Marsh Novices’ Chase at The Festival™. The 11-times champion trainer Paul Nicholls could also be represented by last year’s runner-up Brelan d’As as he tries for a third Paddy Power Gold Cup success following Al Ferof (2012) and Caid du Berlais (2014).

The most successful current trainer in the Paddy Power Gold Cup is Nigel Twiston-Davies, who is based close to Cheltenham at Guiting Power. His four Paddy Power Gold Cup wins were provided by Tipping Tim (1992), Imperial Commander (2008), Little Josh (2010) and Splash Of Ginge (2017). His representative in 2020 is set to be Al Dancer. A G3 winner over hurdles, the seven-year-old was fifth in the G1 Arkle Novices’ Chase at The Festival™ and made a winning reappearance in an intermediate chase at Newton Abbot on 11 October.

Twiston-Davies said: “Al Dancer is in good form and heads for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.

“He has come out of his win at Newton Abbot in good form and we were pleased with that performance.

“We are looking forward to running him.”

 

Simply The Betts (Harry Whittington) finished off the 2019/20 campaign with success in the G3 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase at The Festival™ and is the 9/2 second favourite with Paddy Power. Runner-up in that contest was Happy Diva (Kerry Lee), who won the 2019 Paddy Power Gold Cup. Fifth on her reappearance at Wetherby at the end of October, Happy Diva would become the sixth dual winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup if successful on Saturday and the third to win in consecutive years following Half Free (1984, 1985) and Bradbury Star (1993, 1994).

Nicky Henderson has won the Paddy Power Gold Cup once before with Fondmort (2003). The reigning champion Jump trainer looks to have a very live contender this year with Mister Fisher. The six-year-old won two novices’ chases last season, firstly at Cheltenham and then a G2 contest at Doncaster where he came out a length to the good over Al Dancer. He was last seen when a close fourth in the G1 Marsh Novices’ Chase. 

Trainer Colin Tizzard has yet to land the Paddy Power Gold Cup but has two interesting hopefuls this year with Slate House, who fell two out last year when traveling well before going on to win the G1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park, and The Russian Doyen, a useful novice two seasons ago and an encouraging third on his return to action over hurdles at Fontwell last month.

Martin Pipe sent out a record eight winners of the Paddy Power Gold Cup, with his son David saddling Great Endeavour to victory in 2011. David Pipe has another interesting entry this year in Siruh du Lac. The seven-year-old won two G3 handicap chases at Cheltenham in the 2018/19 campaign for former trainer Nick Williams, including the G3 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate at The Festival™. He was pulled-up in the 2019 Paddy Power Gold Cup before falling two out when leading in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate. He has yet to start for the Pipe stable.

The Paddy Power Gold Cup is not the greatest race for favourites, only winning 14 of the 60 runnings, most recently Tranquil Sea in 2009. Trainer Sean Curran is hoping outsider Domaine de L’Isle can make the line-up on Saturday. The seven-year-old won three of his five outings over fences last season, including a valuable handicap chase at Ascot in January. He reappeared this season at Cheltenham on 23 October, when he kept on to finish fourth in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Upper Lambourn-based Curran said: “Domaine de L’Isle is in fine fettle at home and the Paddy Power Gold Cup is the plan, rain permitting.

“There is rain forecast for Cheltenham and hopefully it gets there as we are looking forward to running.

“I was really pleased with his run at Cheltenham last time out when fourth over hurdles. He was making ground up all the time and we were delighted with that as a comeback effort.

“I think he would have finished much closer if a horse hadn’t fallen in front of him three hurdles from home.

“He just needs more testing ground to be seen at his best and so we are hoping for plenty of rain before Saturday.

“It’s great to have a runner in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and he has been a real stable star for us.”

Similarly, trainer Alexandra Dunn is hoping that Pinson du Rheu can defy his odds. The nine-year-old has yet to start for Somerset-based Dunn but is a three-time winner at Auteuil in France.

Dunn said: “Pinson du Rheu will run in Saturday’s Paddy Power Gold Cup.

“It is his first run for us having come from France, but we have been really pleased with what we’ve seen from him at home.

“He is owned by Stephen Bean who is a new owner to the sport and it is fantastic to have a new owner in the yard who can see his horse run in a big race on a Saturday, particularly at Cheltenham.

“Saturday is just a starting point for Pinson du Rheu. He is a horse who we really like and we are hopeful that there is plenty to come from him this season.

“The Paddy Power is a nice place to start him off and after that there are loads of options for him. He has run over three miles in Auteuil, but we may even drop him back in trip after the Paddy Power – he is just a horse to look forward to.”

Paddy Power Gold Cup – Paddy Power prices: 4/1 Saint Sonnet; 9/2 Simply The Betts; 5/1 Mister Fisher; 8/1 Al Dancer, Happy Diva; 10/1 Slate House; 12/1 Siruh du Lac, Spiritfthegames; 14/1 Brelan d’As, Coole Cody; 16/1 bar

Each-way ¼ 1,2,3,4

For a full list of Paddy Power prices, please click here: https://rb.gy/ceb6zy

Paddy Power himself said: “Champion trainer Nicky Henderson scooped the Paddy Power Gold Cup with Fondmort in 2003 and his Mister Fisher is clearly fancied to repeat the feat as he’s our best-backed horse in the race being into 5/1 [from 12/1].

“Last year’s heroine Happy Diva has also been popular and is now 8/1 [from 20/1] having enjoyed an encouraging enough pipe opener at Wetherby last month.”

Four 6/1 co-favourites for Sunday’s Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle

Edwardstone heads 21 six-day confirmations for the £80,000 G3 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (3.00pm, 2m 87y) at Cheltenham on third and final day of The November Meeting, Sunday, 15 November.

Edwardstone developed into a classy novice over hurdles last season and ended the campaign with a creditable sixth over the course and distance in the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival™.

The six-year-old is the 6/1 co favourite of four with Unibet alongside impressive Chepstow scorer Thyme White (Paul Nicholls), Proschema (Dan Skelton) and the prolific Main Fact (David Pipe), who has won his last eight starts under both codes.

Edwardstone’s trainer Alan King may also run last year’s winner Harambe, who if successful again would become the first two-time winner of the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.

Unibet Champion Hurdle eighth Ballyandy (Nigel Twiston-Davies) heads the weights on 11st 12lb. The consistent nine-year-old ran right up to his best on his comeback, finishing second in the Welsh Champion Hurdle limited handicap at Ffos Las last month.

At the other end of the weights, Jamie Snowden is expecting another improved performance from Pisgah Pike (10st 1lb). The unexposed five-year-old has looked a different proposition since undergoing wind surgery in May, notching up two wins and two seconds in as many starts.

Having been beaten a short head in the Listed Prelude Handicap Hurdle at Market Rasen in late September, Pisgah Pike returned to winning ways in a novices’ hurdle at Plumpton on 19 October. He is a 16/1 chance with Unibet.

Snowden said today: “We gave Pisgah Pike a wind op over the summer and he has not looked back.

“He has won his two novice hurdles and in between was just touched off in a Listed handicap at Market Rasen, which arguably he probably should have won.

“Obviously, he has to take another step forward in a race such as the Greatwood, but he is at the right end of the weights and is still pretty unexposed off this mark [of 129].”

The confirmations also include Sebastopol (Tom Lacey), not seen out since landing the Scottish County Handicap Hurdle at Musselburgh in February, and Tegerek (Jonjo O’Neill), who landed a conditional jockeys’ event comfortably at The Showcase last month.

There are two Irish-trained contenders still engaged - the 2019 Galway Hurdle victor Tudor City (Tony Martin) and bottom weight The Shunter (Emmet Mullins), who has won over hurdles and fences recently.

Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle - Unibet prices: 6/1 Edwardstone, Main Fact, Proschema, Thyme White; 10/1 Tegerek, Sebastopol; 12/1 Hunters Call, Strong Glance, Thinking; 14/1 Ballyandy, Cormier, Countister; 16/1 bar

Each-way ¼ 1,2,3,4

For a full list of Unibet prices, please click here: https://rb.gy/fg0szk

Ed Nicholson, Head of Kindred Racing Sponsorship and communications said: “Since Unibet’s UK launch in 2013, the Unibet brand alone has now sponsored in excess of 1,000 horse races, a figure which rises to close on 2,500 for the Kindred Group in its entirety when you add in Stan James and 32Red sponsored events from the dates we acquired them in July, 2015 and February, 2017 respectively.

“Unibet reach that 1,000 sponsored race landmark on Sunday at Punchestown when we sponsor a new G2 hurdle at Punchestown entitled the Unibet 1000th Race Celebration Hurdle. Then 30 minutes later, the next 1,000 begin with the G1 Unibet Morgiana followed closely by the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.

“The Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle is the third race in the Unibet Road to Cheltenham series of six race sponsorships which culminates with the Unibet Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

“The Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle has always thrown up quality two-mile hurdlers since its inception in 1987; that year Celtic Shot won before taking the Unibet Champion Hurdle the following March and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if the winner of this year’s renewal found himself in the Unibet Champion Hurdle picture.

“It is one of the most competitive renewals I can remember with Unibet going 6/1 the field which brings in Thyme White, Main Fact, Edwardstone and Proschema.”

Also taking place on Sunday’s card at Cheltenham is the £60,000 G2 Shloer Chase (2.25pm) over two miles. Defi du Seuil (Philip Hobbs) heads the seven entries, with the seven-year-old being a dual winner at The Festival™ with victories in the G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle and 2019 G1 Marsh Novices’ Chase. The J P McManus-owned superstar also won the Schloer Chase last season before going on to G1 wins at Sandown Park and Ascot. However, he has not been seen out since a disappointing fifth in the G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at The Festival™.

Put The Kettle On (Henry de Bromhead) also won at The November Meeting in 2019, taking the G2 Arkle Trial Novices’ Chase. On her next start, the six-year-old mare went on to success in the G1 Arkle Novices’ Chase at The Festival™ and is set to return to Cheltenham once again on Sunday.

County Waterford-based de Bromhead said: “Put The Kettle On is in great form and is due to go over to Cheltenham for the Schloer Chase.

“She seems to love it over there and has been working well. We are looking forward to running.

“She really progressed on her two runs at Cheltenham and just enjoys it there so much.”

Going

The going at Cheltenham is currently Good, Good to Soft in places on the Chase and Hurdle courses and Good on the Cross Country Course.

The Cross Country Course is in use on Friday, Countryside Day, for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. Dual Randox Health Grand National winner Tiger Roll (Gordon Elliott), who has also twice won the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at The Festival™, heads the 14 entries for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.  

Unsettled weather is forecast for this week, yielding up to 10 millimetres of rain.

If you need any information about racing at Cheltenham, please contact Meg Furse, Regional Marketing Executive - Communications on 07896 076579 megan.furse@thejockeyclub.co.uk

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