Irish heads BetVictor weights
Top Gamble and Irish Cavalier head the weights for the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham's Open meeting on November 12.
Irish Cavalier: Heads BetVictor weights
One of the three market leaders at 10/1 with the sponsors is More Of That (Jonjo O'Neill, 11st 6lb), winner of the 2014 World Hurdle at The Festival and successful on two of his three starts over fences last season.
The other 10/1 co-favourites are Garde La Victorie (Philip Hobbs, 11st 3lb), who went down by a short-head in the G2 Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on Tuesday, and Double Shuffle (Tom George, 10st 11lb), who was a good third over the course and distance in the Listed Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase at The Festival.
More Of That's trainer Jonjo O'Neill could also be represented by Taquin du Seuil (11st 8lb, 12/1), successful in the G1 JLT Novices' Chase at The Festival in 2014.
The eight-year-old is set to carry an extra eight pounds this year and if successful on November 12 would become only the third horse to win back-to-back renewals of the BetVictor Gold Cup, following Half Free (1984 & 1985) and Bradbury Star (1993 & 1994).
King revealed: "It is the plan to go for the BetVictor Gold Cup again with Annacotty.
"He is well and in good form. We would like to see a drop of rain before next weekend.
"He is a horse who is better fresh, so it was always the plan to go straight to Cheltenham again with him."
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Local handler Nigel Twiston-Davies, successful in the BetVictor Gold Cup three times, could be represented by Bristol De Mai (11st 6lb, 12/1), runner-up in a Listed chase at Carlisle on October 30, Ballykan (10st 7lb, 25/1) and Splash Of Ginge (10st 3lb, 25/1).
David Pipe, successful in 2011 with Great Endeavour, has two representatives in Ballynagour (11st 9lb, 25/1) and the four-year-old King's Socks (10st 4lb, 14/1), who has yet to start in Britain but has been placed at G1 level in France.
Britain's champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls won the BetVictor Gold Cup with Caid Du Berlais (10st 12ln, 16/1) in 2014. His seven other entries include Saphir Du Rheu (11st 5lb, 14/1), As De Mee (10st 5b, 16/1), Art Mauresque (11st 8lb, 20/1) and the four-year-old Frodon (10st 3lb, 12/1), an impressive victor on both his British starts over fences.
The next acceptance stage for the BetVictor Gold cup is on Monday, November 7, with the final declaration stage on Thursday, November 10. The maximum permitted field is 20 runners.
Greatwood Hurdle weights
Meanwhile, Nicky Henderson's Hargam (20/1 with the sponsors) heads the weights on 11st 12lb for the Grade Three StanJames.com Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, which is run over two miles and 87 yards. The five-year-old was third in the 2015 G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival and made a winning reappearance in a Listed contest at Kempton Park last month.
Henderson told Stan James: "Hargam has come out of Kempton in great shape but I've not spoken to Frank or JP yet with regards to his next run.
"Realistically, I think he should be 100/1 to win a StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle off top-weight as he is particularly badly handicapped on what he has achieved.
"I was hoping to run Brain Power at Ascot on Saturday but the ground was too quick and I bottled out, so we're hoping for some rain if he is to take his chance in the Greatwood. He has been allotted a good weight though (11st 4lb) and if things go our way, that's where we'll head with him."
King has two entries in the Greatwood Hurdle – Sceau Royal (11st 8lb, 10/1), who was successful in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle at The Showcase at Cheltenham on October 22, and Winter Escape (11st 1lb, 8/1 favourite), who is undefeated in three starts over hurdles. The five-year-old was last seen out when successful in a G2 event at Kempton Park in February.
King explained: "The StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle has been the plan all autumn for Winter Escape. Again, I am very happy with him.
"Sceau Royal is entered in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday and will probably go there – I just want to keep an eye on the ground as I wouldn't want it too fast for him. If he does run at Wincanton, he won't be going to Cheltenham."
Other leading contenders include Adrien du Pont (Paul Nicholls, 11st 4lb, 16/1), successful at G1 level at Chepstow in January and fourth behind Sceau Royal last month, plus A Hare Breadth (Ben Pauling, 10st 10lb, 16/1), a winner at The Open last season.
The next acceptance stage for the StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle is on Monday, November 7, with the final declaration stage on Friday, December 11. The maximum permitted field is 24 runners.
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