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Midnight Shadow set to try and complete notable double

Mon 6 Dec 2021

Dashel Drasher could bid to defy top weight in the Racing Post Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday as long there is enough cut in the ground.

Connections of the Jeremy Scott-trained eight-year-old are keen to have a go at the valuable handicap chase if conditions are suitable.

Scott reports his stable star to have taken his seasonal reappearance at Ascot, where he was third to Lostintranslation, in his stride.

“If we get enough rain and the ground is good to soft or soft, I think the owners will be quite keen to run as it ties in possibly with the Silviniaco Conti Chase (at Kempton) later on in January,” said Scott.

“It gives a nice time gap, but we’ll very much see what the weather does.

Watch a full replay of the Paddy Power Gold Cup

“He seems to have come out of his race really well. All’s good.”

A field of 21 remain at the five-day confirmation stage including ante-post favourite Lalor.

The nine-year-old, trained by Paul Nicholls, heads the market thanks to his fine effort when taking third place behind Midnight Shadow in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at the Prestbury Park venue last month.

That was his first start since he moved to Ditcheat from Kayley Woollacott’s Crewkerne yard.

Midnight Shadow could bid to double up for trainer Sue Smith. Others from that race include Philip Hobbs’ Dostal Phil, who was fourth, and the Evan Williams-trained Coole Cody. He came down at the second-last fence when holding every chance.

Sue Smith, the trainer of Midnight Shadow, told the Racing Post: "He seems in very good form and we're very happy with him.

"Mr and Mrs Clarke [owners] were quite keen to come back for this race and we'd have to see how he comes out of it if there were thoughts of the King George.

"He took the Paddy Power very well, although we'd like Dashel Drasher to stay in at the top of the weights to help us a bit, even though our fella is a strong-made horse.

"He loves it around Cheltenham and you'd have to say it was a career-best in the Paddy Power. He did it in grand style, bar one little peck on landing, which steadied him, but he picked up and ran on well.

"He's up 7lb for that and you'd always like less, but it could have been worse."

Nicky Henderson’s Fusil Raffles could try to back up his fortunate success in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby when he capitalised on the fall of Shan Blue. However, he also holds an entry in the Unibet International Hurdle on the same card.

Dan Skelton is four-handed with Amoola Gold, Alnadam, Knight In Dubai and Beakstown while the Emmet Mullins-trained Noble Yeats in the sole Irish entry.

Meanwhile, Milton Harris is favouring an outing at Doncaster on Saturday with Knight Salute – despite giving him an alternative entry at Cheltenham.

Bought out of Andrew Balding’s yard for the relatively modest sum of 14,000 guineas in July, the son of Sir Percy has since won three times over hurdles.

Knight Salute completed his hat-trick with a Grade Two win at Cheltenham last month and has the option of returning to Prestbury Park for another JCB Triumph Trial.

But while a final decision will not be made until later in the week, Harris is leaning towards the Grade Two bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle on Town Moor.

He said: “We’ve entered Knight Salute in both races, as have a lot of other people.

“If you’re asking me where we’re going to go, the answer is I don’t know. We’re forecast a wet week and I don’t know he won’t go on slow ground, but we don’t know he does either.

“I’ll talk to the owners and see. Our preference is Doncaster as he’d carry a 5lb penalty in a £60,000 race and at Cheltenham he’d carry a 7lb penalty in a £25,000 race.

“I’d say we’re likely to go to Doncaster, but all the options will be kept open.”

Knight Salute’s potential rivals at Doncaster include Gary Moore’s Wetherby scorer Porticello, Dan Skelton’s dual winner Too Friendly and Impulsive One from Nicky Henderson’s yard.

The latter was thoroughly impressive on his first two starts over obstacles, but was no match for Knight Salute at Kempton in October.

The other Grade Two run on Doncaster’s Saturday card is the bet365 December Novices’ Chase.

The three-mile contest could see the Paul Nicholls-trained Threeunderthrufive and Kim Bailey’s Does He Know renew rivalry after finishing first and second at Cheltenham four weeks ago.

Warren Greatrex’s Emitom is also one of seven entries.

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