Voy Por primed for Ryanair take-off

ALAN King believes he has Voy Por Ustedes in A1 condition as his chaser bids to win three different races at the Cheltenham Festival.

The eight-year-old, owned by Sir Robert Ogden, is the one all his rivals fear in the Ryanair Chase.

And his Festival record bears close inspection as he won the Arkle Trophy in 2006 and has finished first and second in the last two runnings of the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

“We haven’t done a huge amount since Ascot, he did a bit of work on Saturday morning but just to put the finishing touches to him,” said the Barbury Castle trainer.

“The lad who rides him every day is very happy with him and so is the trainer.

“Viking Flagship (dual Queen Mother winner) used to need a huge amount of work, whereas with this fellow, the temptation is to leave him underdone.

“They are both very talented and even though they are both Queen Mother winners, they are both probably better over two and a half.

“There’s nothing we can do about the weather and if it stays the way it is nobody can have any complaints.”

The owner’s racing manager Barry Simpson is also full of confidence.

“Everything has gone well in his preparation,” he said.

“He’s in great form and if he runs to his form I think he’ll win, but there are still some good horses in the race he has to beat.

“The distance is fine, the track is perfect for him going the right way round and we’ve no problems with the ground at the moment.

“We’ve got a top-class jockey on board and the trainer’s in form.

“He ticks all the boxes.”

Our Vic won the race in 2008 but his trainer David Pipe admits Voy Por Ustedes is a major stumbling block this time.

“He’s in great form but obviously Voy Por Ustedes is the one to beat,” said the Nicholashayne handler.

“He runs well fresh. There wasn’t much for him after the King George so we decided to come straight here, but Voy Por looks a good thing.”

Howard Johnson has faced a race against time to get last season’s Arkle hero Tidal Bay fit after he cut a leg in the Letheby & Christopher Chase at Cheltenham in January.

“We just think Tidal Bay’s best trip is two and a half miles,” said owner Graham Wylie.

“We tried him over three miles and he didn’t quite get home, even though it was heavy ground, but on fast ground he should jump very well and we think it’s his optimum trip.

“I don’t think he’s in the same form as last year. He got a really bad cut during his last race and it took him a long time to come right but Howard wouldn’t be running him if he didn’t think he had a good chance.”

Nicky Richards is looking forward to running his popular grey Monet’s Garden, who was fourth in this race two years ago and second to Voy Por Ustedes in the 2006 Arkle.

“He’s ready to go and he’s in good form,” said the Greystoke trainer.

“I hope we don’t get any more rain but we’re in the lap of the gods.

“The plan was to go to Ascot last month but we decided not to go because of the ground. This was the next obvious target that we could go for.

“He hasn’t got a bad record at Cheltenham over fences or hurdles. A lot of people say the course doesn’t suit him but he’s still run two or three nice races there.”

Imperial Commander defeated Gold Cup hope Barbers Shop over the course in the Paddy Power in November.

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies is looking for a repeat performance.

“He likes the track, he’s in good form and we’re hopeful,” said the Naunton-based handler.

“It was great performance in the Paddy Power and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”

L’Antartique has won two big races at Cheltenham – the Jewson and the Paddy Power Gold Cup in 2007.

He has only had one run so far this season but trainer Ferdy Murphy is happy to bring him back to his happy-hunting ground.

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