Gold Cup contender makes a surprise entry into Stayers' Hurdle
newsonjapan.com -- Jan 20
Gold Cup challenger Champ made a surprise entry in the 51 inclusions for the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle Chase at Cheltenham Festival.

After securing the RSA last campaign, the nine-year-old now holds an entry ahead of the Gold Cup with his trainer Nicky Henderson, who claimed he had considered sending the horse to a conditions hurdle as prep.

The race may turn out to be left for Thyme Hill and 2019 victor Paisley Park, who ended up second behind his rival in the Long Distance Hurdle but emerged as the victor in the Long Walk Hurdle, to decide the winner.

Sam Spinner, who was runner-up behind Paisley Park in the Grade 1 two campaigns ago, have been able to win three novice chases the following season before succumbing to a fractured pelvis injury. He has been struggling to reignite his form in his two starts this season.

Trainer Jedd O'Keeffe told the media: "He's fine at home. He's had some time off after his last run at Newbury as an old foot injury has flared up. Due to that injury, the plan is to stay over hurdles this season.

"I think we're going to struggle to get a run into him before the race, so he will be going to Cheltenham fresh. We thought about the Rendlesham Hurdle [February 20] but it might just come too soon.

"He's a talented horse and he's run well in the race before. He was fifth in 2018 and then a good second the following year. He has solid form at Cheltenham so hopefully, he can get there in one piece."

Lisnagar Oscar, who is being trained by Rebecca Curtis, scored 50-1 in last campaign's race and he is included along with Bacardys and Ronald Pump, who are two of the 20 Irish-trained entries as Pertemos winner Sire Du Berlais and The Storyteller were included. Also on Gold Cup day, there are bound to be major entries before the racing will be held.

Currently, Paul Nicholls takes the top spot as a leading trainer having secured four wins thanks to Big Buck's and he has entered Next Destination and McFabulous, the victor of Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle at Kempton last weekend.

Previous winners in Mares' Hurdle

Benie Des Dieux, Roksana, and Honeysuckle are the three winners of the last three runnings of the CLose Brothers Mares' Hurdle and the trio was also among the entries for the Grade 1, of which Willie Mullins has claimed nine times.

Benie Des Dieux has not been in a race ever since coming second last season. She will be making a comeback, as she is included among the six entries for Mullins, which includes last campaign's festival champion Concertista.

Honeysuckle, who currently holds an entry for the Unibet Champion Hurdle, increased her Grade 1 tally to five for trainer Henry de Bromhead, and she was undefeated after securing Hatton's Grace Hurdle back in November.

The Seven-year-old was seen to among the nine runners for Leopardstown's Chanell Pharma Iris Champion Hurdle (3.15) on February 6, which is the opening date for the two-day Dublin Racing Festival.

Minella Indo and A Plus Tard will be participating in Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup (3.40) as they were named among the entries of the Grade 1 race.

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