Emma Lavelle feels Easter Meteor deserves a change of luck in the Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup today after crashing out on his last visit to Cheltenham.
The seven-year-old fell was still going well and holding a narrow lead when falling at the penultimate fence in the Paddy Power Gold Cup won by Johns Spirit.
The horse showed no ill-effects from that mishap when finishing second to Cantlow at Newbury two weeks ago.
“He seems to have come out of Newbury in really good order and he loves it around Cheltenham. All those races are massively competitive, but he’s knocking on the door and it would be lovely if he could get his head in front,” Lavelle said.
“He was definitely still there and punching when he fell. He’s a lovely horse and the one thing I would say is the less rain that falls, the better the chance for him.”
Johns Spirit was raised 9lb for his Paddy Power victory over the strong-finishing Colour Squadron, but his rider Richie McLernon is still expecting a big run from Jonjo O’Neill’s charge.
“Touch wood, he’ll go well,” McLernon told At The Races.
“Obviously the weights will be a bit of a factor but he’s fit and well, so hopefully he’ll go well.
“I was there when the other horse fell in front. He idled a bit but he stuck his head out. He has to be ridden the way he was the last day. Hopefully we can do the same again and have luck in running.”
Tony McCoy has opted to ride Colour Squadron, who was done no favours by the fall of Easter Meteor, instead of either Cantlow or Tap Night, all owned by his boss JP McManus.
McCoy had steered Cantlow to victory at Newbury and his trainer Paul Webber is just hoping his charge can run a good race.
“He seems come out of the Newbury race very well indeed and hopefully he can move forward from there,” said Webber.
“The champion jockey, who is much respected, has chosen to ride something else so we’ve got a bit of a hill to climb and the Cheltenham one as well.”
Paul Nicholls is expecting a big run from Grandioso, who showed he had recovered from a touch of colic a few months ago with a good run when third behind Cantlow and Easter Meteor at Newbury.
“He’s a second-season chaser, but you couldn’t say he’s under-exposed having won the Pendil and I wasn’t sure how well-handicapped he was at the start of the season off 145,” he said.
“But I was really pleased with the way he ran at Newbury, he jumped and travelled well and just blew up two out because he needed the run. He’d had a problem with colic in the summer and came in a little bit late, I was rushing to find a prep for Cheltenham and that came along just in time.
“He’s bound to come on for that run, just because of the circumstances we found ourselves in.
“It’s never an easy race, but I’d like to think he’s got a decent chance.”
David Pipe admits Salut Flo faces a tough task after 639 days off the track. The eight-year-old has been on the sidelines since winning the Byrne Group Plate at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2012.
“Hopefully he’s got a good each-way chance. He’s in good form at home, but he’s been off for a long time and it’s a massive ask. He’s been through a colic operation and we hope for the best,” said Pipe.
Attaglance was a good fourth to Johns Spirit in the Paddy Power, and his trainer Malcolm Jefferson believes he is not without hope of turning the form around.
“His jumping at home had always been good but when he was getting to the races the soft ground was catching him out, when it’s nice ground he jumps better off it,” said the North Yorkshire handler.
“I think it’s fair that he’s gone up 6lb and he might have an advantage over some of the others that ran in the Paddy Power as our horse came out of it feeling good as he hadn’t run since September.
“According to his hurdles mark he could still be well handicapped – if he gets the right conditions.”
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