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CHELTENHAM: Willie Mullins enters nine for Gold Cup
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CHELTENHAM: Willie Mullins enters nine for Gold Cup
on 09 January 2019
Willie Mullins has nine horses entered among a record 43 in the Magners Gold Cup as he seeks a first success in the Cheltenham showcase

Three past winners are among the bumper 43 entries revealed for the 2019 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.

It is the highest number since 2007 for the Gold Cup, which will be run on Friday, March 15th. The entries include a record 24 from Ireland.

Three of the last four winners feature among the entries in 2019 - last year's hero Native River (Colin Tizzard), 2017 victor Sizing John (Jessica Harrington) and Coneygree (Mark Bradstock), who became the first novice to win the contest in 41 years when successful in 2015.

Currently heading the ante-post market is Presenting Percy (Patrick Kelly), one of the record number of Irish-trained entries.

Presenting Percy is seeking a three-timer having taken the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle in 2017 and the Grade 1 RSA Novices' Chase in 2018.

He has yet to start so far this season, with connections waiting for softer ground and the Galmoy Hurdle (January 24th) at Gowran Park later this month could be his first run back.

Native River gamely defeated Might Bite (Nicky Henderson) by four and a half lengths in 2018 after finishing third to the Irish-trained Sizing John the year before.

In two outings so far this season, Native River finished second in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park in November, going down by four lengths to Bristol De Mai and then came third behind Clan Des Obeaux and stablemate Thistlecrack in the Grade 1 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park.

Native River and Thistlecrack, along with last month's Coral Welsh Grand National hero Elegant Escape, are Colin Tizzard's three entries. Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father who trains on the Dorset/Somerset border, reported: "Thistlecrack will go straight to the Gold Cup. He hasn't got there yet in his career, but he deserves to get there.

"With Native River, we haven't definitely decided, but quite possibly he will turn up in the Denman Chase (Newbury, February 9th) and then on to the Gold Cup to defend his crown.

REALLY PLEASED

"We were really pleased with both Native River and Thistlecrack at Kempton and they have both just been ticking along since.

"Elegant Escape also has an entry for the Gold Cup and that is almost certainly the way we will be looking, and hoping there will be a bit of cut in the ground. He will also have a Grand National entry.

"It is difficult to know what to do with Elegant Escape next. He is rated 159 now and needs to find a bit more to be competitive in a Gold Cup."

Kemboy is one of Willie Mullins nine entries

The Gold Cup is one of the few the races to have eluded Willie Mullins - he has saddled six seconds - but he has the most entries of any handler in 2019 with nine engaged.

Among the Mullins-trained entries is Grade 1 Savills Chase winner Kemboy, lightly-raced recent Listed scorer Al Boum Photo, 2018 Grade 1 Punchestown Gold Cup winner Bellshill, former dual festival winner Yorkhill, last season Grade 2 National Hunt Chase scorer Rathvinden and Total Recall, who took the valuable Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in 2017.

Gordon Elliott won the Gold Cup in 2016 with Don Cossack and his seven entries this year include last season's Grade 1 JLT Novices' Chase winner Shattered Love. Other Irish-trained contenders include last year's third and fourth, Anibale Fly (Tony Martin) and Road To Respect (Noel Meade).

The grey Bristol De Mai, owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, fell at the ninth fence in the 32Red King George VI Chase.

Nigel Twiston-Davies, who landed the Gold Cup in 2010 with Imperial Commander, reported: "Bristol De Mai is in good form at home.

"After his fall at Kempton, he was a bit bruised but not too bad and has been cantering away since.

"There is a possibility he could go to Haydock and run over hurdles in the Rendlesham Hurdle (February 16th) to give him a confidence booster and then on to the Gold Cup."

Paul Nicholls has taken the Gold Cup four times. His four 2019 entries are headed by King George VI Chase winner Clan Des Obeaux and also include Cheltenham specialist Frodon, the lightly-raced Give Me A Copper and prolific winner Black Corton.

Champion British trainer Nicky Henderson is responsible for three entries.

In addition to Might Bite, Henderson has also put in Valtor, an impressive winner on his UK debut in a listed handicap chase at Ascot in December, and Terrefort, runner-up in the 2018 JLT Novices' Chase before winning an Aintree Grade 1.

Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Grade 1, £625,000. 3.30pm, Cheltenham, Friday, March 15th.

ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS (FR) 9 Slaneyville Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE

AL BOUM PHOTO (FR) 7 Mrs J Donnelly Willie Mullins IRE

AMERICAN (FR) 9 The Jago Family Partnership Harry Fry

ANIBALE FLY (FR) 9 J P McManus Tony Martin IRE

BALKO DES FLOS (FR) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Henry de Bromhead IRE

BELLSHILL (IRE) 9 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE

BLACK CORTON (FR) 8 The Brooks, Stewart Families & J Kyle Paul Nicholls

BLAKLION 10 S Such & CG Paletta Nigel Twiston-Davies

BRISTOL DE MAI (FR) 8 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nigel Twiston-Davies

CLAN DES OBEAUX (FR) 7 Mr & Mrs P Barber, G Mason, Sir A Ferguson Paul Nicholls

CONEYGREE 12 The Max Partnership Mark Bradstock

DEFINITLY RED (IRE) 10 Phil & Julie Martin Brian Ellison

DON POLI (IRE) 10 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE

DOUBLE SHUFFLE (IRE) 9 Crossed Fingers Partnership Tom George

ELEGANT ESCAPE (IRE) 7 J P Romans Colin Tizzard

FRODON (FR) 7 P J Vogt Paul Nicholls

GIVE ME A COPPER (IRE) 9 Done, Ferguson, Kyle, Mason & Wood Paul Nicholls

INVITATION ONLY (IRE) 8 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE

KEMBOY (FR) 7 Supreme Racing/Brett Graham/Ken Sharp Willie Mullins IRE

KILLULTAGH VIC (IRE) 10 Rose Boyd/B Anderson/Mrs M Armstrong Willie Mullins IRE

MALA BEACH (IRE) 11 Chris Jones Gordon Elliott IRE

MIGHT BITE (IRE) 10 The Knot Again Partnership Nicky Henderson

MINELLA ROCCO (IRE) 9 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill

MISTER WHITAKER (IRE) 7 Tim Radford Mick Channon

MONALEE (IRE) 8 Barry Maloney Henry de Bromhead IRE

MONBEG NOTORIOUS (IRE) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE

NATIVE RIVER (IRE) 9 Brocade Racing Colin Tizzard

NOBLE ENDEAVOR (IRE) 10 Chris Jones Gordon Elliott IRE

OUTLANDER (IRE) 11 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE

PRESENTING PERCY 8 Philip Reynolds Patrick Kelly IRE

RATHVINDEN (IRE) 11 Ronnie Bartlett Willie Mullins IRE

ROAD TO RESPECT (IRE) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE

SHATTERED LOVE (IRE) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE

SIZING JOHN 9 Ann & Alan Potts Limited Jessica Harrington IRE

SNOW FALCON (IRE) 9 Patricia Hunt Noel Meade IRE

TERREFORT (FR) 6 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson

THE STORYTELLER (IRE) 8 Mrs Pat Sloan Gordon Elliott IRE

THISTLECRACK 11 John and Heather Snook Colin Tizzard

TOTAL RECALL (IRE) 10 Slaneyville Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE

TOUT EST PERMIS (FR) 6 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE

VALTOR (FR) 10 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson

YALA ENKI (FR) 9 Hills of Ledbury (Aga) Venetia Williams

YORKHILL (IRE) 9 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE

43 entries 24 Irish-trained

‘LOTS MORE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL NEWS IN THE IRISH FIELD NEXT WEEKEND’.

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