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Thistlecrack heads Cheltenham Gold Cup entries
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Farming Classifieds
Thistlecrack heads Cheltenham Gold Cup entries
on 11 January 2017
Colin Tizzard has five entries in the Gold Cup while Ireland's

Thistlecrack is the general even-money favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup following publication of the entries for the race on Wednesday.

His trainer Colin Tizzard has five horses engaged, the same number as Gordon Elliott though Elliott's quintet includes last year's winner Don Cossack whose retirement from racing was confirmed earlier in the day.

There are 39 entries for the March 17th three and a quarter mile showpiece. This year's race has a purse of £575,000.

The nine-year-old Thistlecrack, a runaway winner of the Stayers' Hurdle in 2016, extended his unbeaten sequence over fences to four with a dominant victory over stablemate and eight-time Group 1 scorer Cue Card in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park last month.

Thistlecrack is out to become the second novice chaser, after Coneygree in 2015, to win the Gold Cup since Captain Christy succeeded in 1974.

The Tizzard team is strengthened further by Native River, who has lifted the Hennessy Gold Cup and Welsh Grand National - the latter under top-weight - in two starts over fences this season, exciting French import Alary and Theatre Guide, winner of a G3 handicap chase at Cheltenham in December.

Elliott has also put in Outlander and Don Poli, who led home and one-two for the stable in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, Empire Of Dirt and Roi Des Francs, all for Gigginstown.

Zabana (Andrew Lynch) defeated Outlander by two lengths to win the three-mile Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown in April. He captured a minor chase at Gowran Park in November before coming home seventh behind Outlander over Christmas.

Zabana has good form at the Festival, having just been touched off in the 2015 Coral Cup, but unseated Davy Russell at the start of last year's JLT Novices' Chase won by Black Hercules.

Trainer Andrew Lynch said: "Zabana is just ticking over at the moment and could run next in the Irish Gold Cup depending on the ground. He went a bit wide in the Lexus and I think he will get closer to them next time. That's what I am hoping. He is in the Gold Cup and also in the Ryanair. We will just see how things work out between now and then. I would have no problem going for the Gold Cup as he loves Cheltenham and the trip will be no problem."

"Thistlecrack looks the real one in the Gold Cup. He is improving but apart from him it looks quite open."

The Gold Cup is one of the few races to have eluded the all-conquering Willie Mullins and he has a couple of entries this year, both owned by Susannah Ricci, in Djakadam, runner-up for the past two years, and Vroum Vroum Mag, successful in last season's Group 1 OLBG Mares' Hurdle at The Festival and victorious on all her six starts over fences. Mullins has been responsible for six Gold Cup seconds.

Paul Nicholls is the most successful current trainer in the Gold Cup with four victories and the two entries from Britain's champion trainer are dual King George hero Silviniaco Conti and Saphir Du Rheu.

Only once has the Gold Cup gone to France (The Fellow in 1994). There is French representation among this year's entries with Vezeley (Emmanuel Clayeux), who shaped well on his British debut when third to Cue Card and Coneygree in the G1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park in November.

Nicky Henderson, successful in the Gold Cup with Long Run (2011) and Bobs Worth (2013), has made an entry for Kotkikova. The six-year-old mare is a Grade 1 winner in France but was only fifth on her debut for the Seven Barrows handler behind Vroum Vroum Mag in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown on December 28th.

Hopes of keeping the Gold Cup in Gloucestershire rest with Jonjo O'Neill, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Fergal O'Brien.

O'Neill has a trio of entries including 2014 Stayers' Hurdle winner More Of That, this season's BetVictor Gold Cup scorer Taquin Du Seuil and Minella Rocco, who landed the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Festival in 2016.

Twiston-Davies' two entries are Blaklion, who took the RSA Chase in 2016, and Bristol De Mai, runner-up in the 2016 JLT Novices' Chasel. O'Brien's entry is Perfect Candidate, twice a winner in handicaps over the course and distance.

Other Gold Cup entries include the 2014 winner Lord Windermere (Jim Culloty) and 2015 Grand National hero Many Clouds (Oliver Sherwood), who was sixth in the 2015 renewal.

MORE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL NEWS IN THE IRISH FIELD THIS WEEKEND

TIMICO CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP

Grade 1, £575,000. 3.30pm, Friday, March 17th. 3m 2f 110yds.

Horse Age Owner Trainer

ALARY (FR) 7 Ann & Alan Potts Colin Tizzard

ARCTIC SKIPPER (IRE) 8 L Halley Vincent Halley IRE

BLAKLION 8 S Such & CG Paletta Nigel Twiston-Davies

BRISTOL DE MAI (FR) 6 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nigel Twiston-Davies

CHAMPAGNE WEST (IRE) 9 Roger Brookhouse Henry de Bromhead IRE

CUE CARD 11 Jean Bishop Colin Tizzard

DJAKADAM (FR) 8 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE

DON COSSACK (GER) 10 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE

DON POLI (IRE) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE

EMPIRE OF DIRT (IRE) 10 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE

FINE RIGHTLY (IRE) 9 Patricia Duffin Stuart Crawford IRE

IRISH CAVALIER (IRE) 8 A McIver Rebecca Curtis

KOTKIKOVA (FR) 6 J P McManus Nicky Henderson

KYLEMORE LOUGH 8 M J McMahon & Denis Gallagher Kerry Lee

LORD WINDERMERE (IRE) 11 Dr Ronan Lambe Jim Culloty IRE

MANY CLOUDS (IRE) 10 Trevor Hemmings Oliver Sherwood

MINELLA ROCCO (IRE) 7 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill

MORE OF THAT (IRE) 9 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill

NATIVE RIVER (IRE) 7 Brocade Racing Colin Tizzard

OUTLANDER (IRE) 9 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE

PERFECT CANDIDATE (IRE) 10 ISL Recruitment Fergal O'Brien

ROAD TO RICHES (IRE) 10 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE

ROI DES FRANCS (FR) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE

SAPHIR DU RHEU (FR) 8 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls

SAUSALITO SUNRISE (IRE) 9 Diana Whateley Philip Hobbs

SHANTOU FLYER (IRE) 7 Carl Hinchy Rebecca Curtis

SILVINIACO CONTI (FR) 11 Chris Giles & Potensis Bloodstock Ltd Paul Nicholls

SIZING JOHN 7 Ann & Alan Potts Partnership Jessica Harrington IRE

SMAD PLACE (FR) 10 Mrs Peter Andrews Alan King

SUB LIEUTENANT (IRE) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Henry de Bromhead IRE

TAQUIN DU SEUIL (FR) 10 Martin Broughton & Friends 1 Jonjo O'Neill

TEA FOR TWO 8 Jane Williams & Len Jakeman Nick Williams

THEATRE GUIDE (IRE) 10 Jean Bishop Colin Tizzard

THISTLECRACK 9 John and Heather Snook Colin Tizzard

VALSEUR LIDO (FR) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Henry de Bromhead IRE

VEZELAY (FR) 8 P Joubert Emmanuel Clayeux FR

VROUM VROUM MAG (FR) 8 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE

WOUNDED WARRIOR (IRE) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE

ZABANA (IRE) 8 Chris Jones Andrew Lynch IRE

39 entries

17 Irish-trained

1 French-trained

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