Lucinda Russell’s stable star was second in his sole appearance at the track when chasing home L’Homme Presse at last year’s Festival but went on to reverse that form when scooping Grade One honours at Aintree the following month.
He was last seen fading into fifth in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day and although the eight-year-old is joined on the list of possibles by stablemate Corach Rambler, the Kinross-based handler has reported Ahoy Senor will be her main dart at the Grade Two contest – with the Gold Cup in March still the dream.
“Ahoy Senor is in great form,” said Russell. “This is the first choice for him with second choice being the Denman Chase at Newbury. If the ground was very soft or testing we would probably wait for Newbury.
“I was really pleased with his run at Kempton and he seems to be growing up – I was very happy with him.
“We’ve been held up – the snow and ice has been quite horrible for us. So last week they had a bit of a quiet week, however we will get quite a bit of work into him this week and see how he gets on.”
She added: “I will speak to the owners and see what they are thinking, but I think they would like to give him a bit more experience around Cheltenham which I think is a fair statement.
“The Gold Cup is still the dream and I’m really looking forward to seeing him run again. I think he’s on the up again now and we’ve always thought he was a really good horse.”
Gold Cup second favourite and Grand National hero Noble Yeats could line-up for Emmet Mullins, while Protektorat is the shortest priced British-trained candidate for the blue ribband and this has always been the plan for Dan Skelton’s Betfair Chase winner.
Nicky Henderson has won this twice in the last three years and could rely on Dusart – although the eight-year-old also has the option of Doncaster’s Sky Bet Chase, while Frodon won this contest in 2019 and could line-up having missed out on an intended target at Taunton.
Cape Gentleman is an interesting raider from Ireland while Cool Cody (Evan Williams), Sounds Russian (Ruth Jefferson), Sam Brown (Anthony Honeyball) and Happygolucky (Kim Bailey) complete the list of entries.
Editeur Du Gite has been supplemented for the rearranged Albert Bartlett Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Gary Moore’s charge put himself in the Champion Chase picture when causing a shock in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over the Christmas period.
Although not amongst the candidates for the Grade One contest at Ascot last Saturday, the nine-year-old has won twice at Prestbury Park and his record in Gloucestershire has seen connections part with £2,250 to add him to the field.
The big clash between Energumene and Edwardstone is still on as both also appeared among the confirmations.
The duo were set to clash at the race’s traditional home of Ascot, but with the Berkshire track’s meeting falling victim to the latest cold snap last Saturday, the pair now get the chance to return to the scene of their greatest triumphs .
Respective trainers Alan King and Willie Mullins were quick to state their intentions to line up in the rearranged contest and they have been joined by Joe Tizzard’s Amarillo Sky who was the only other horse declared for Ascot.
Adding their names to the mix are Venetia Williams’ Funambule Sivola, who was second behind Energumene in the Champion Chase last March, and David Pipe’s Sizing Pottsie.
The Pond House handler admits his charge has a mountain to climb up against what appears the best of the two-mile division – but with an intended outing at Lingfield lost to the elements, is short of options and willing to take a chance in the hunt for the prize-money on offer.
“We would have liked to have gone to Lingfield on Sunday but he is limited for options,” said Pipe.
“Obviously we will be a big price but it won’t be that big a field. It’ll be the plan to try and get as much (prize money) as we can.”
Although the original contest was short of runners, the two-mile Grade One was only reoffered to those still engaged at the six-day forfeit stage.Enjoy a free one month trial of Racing TV – the only channel showing every race live from the Cheltenham Festival! Watch every race live from all the meetings that matter across Britain and Ireland including the Dublin Racing Festival. Click above to start yours now.
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