Annacotty seeks Cheltenham repeat

Annacotty will attempt back-to-back victories in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on November 12.

The Alan King-trained gelding has been allotted 11st 8lb this time round, 8lb more than last year when he defeated Buywise by half a length.

Should Annacotty be successful then he would become only the third horse to double up in the presitigious handicap chase after Half Free (1984-85) and Bradbury Star (1993-94).

“It is the plan to go for the BetVictor Gold Cup again with Annacotty,” said King.

“He is well and in good form. We would like to see a drop of rain before next weekend.

“He is a horse who is better fresh, so it was always the plan to go straight to Cheltenham again with him.”

Jointly heading the weights on 11st 12lb for the extended two-and-a-half-mile feature are Charlie Hall Chase scorer Irish Cavalier, trained by Rebecca Curtis, and Kerry Lee’s Top Gamble.

One of the three market leaders at 10-1 with the new sponsors is More Of That, who has 11st 6lb.

The other co-favourites are Philip Hobbs’ Garde La Victoire (11st 3lb), runner-up in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on Tuesday, and Tom George’s Double Shuffle (10st 11lb).

Just behind those in the betting is Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Bristol De Mai at 12-1, who has not been given an entry in the Betfair Chase after his defeat at Carlisle on Sunday.

“He’s in very good form but we’ll probably just go a bit lower key (than the Betfair) now,” said Twiston-Davies.

“The winner (Seeyouatmidnight) is a very good horse and ours didn’t run a very good race first time out last season, either. Nothing is definite, by any means.”

Meanwhile, Hargam heads the weights on 11st 12lb for the StanJames.com Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on November 13.

Nicky Henderson will discuss plans with owner JP McManus and racing manager Frank Berry for the grey following his recent victory at Kempton.

“Hargam has come out of Kempton in great shape but I’ve not spoken to Frank or JP yet with regards to his next run,” Henderson said.

“Realistically, I think he should be 100-1 to win a Greatwood Hurdle off top-weight as he is particularly badly handicapped on what he has achieved.”

McManus also has Winter Escape, whose trainer Alan King is keen to go for this race with the promising five-year-old, who won all his three starts last term.

“The Greatwood Hurdle has been the plan all autumn for Winter Escape and I am very happy with him,” said King.

Winter Escape, who has been given 11st 1lb, is 8-1 favourite with the sponsors.

King also has Sceau Royal (11st 8lb), but he may run at Wincanton on Saturday instead.

“Sceau Royal is entered in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday and will probably go there — I just want to keep an eye on the ground as I wouldn’t want it too fast for him,” said King.

“If he does run at Wincanton, he won’t be going to Cheltenham.”

Other leading contenders include Paul Nicholls’ Adrien Du Pont (11st 4lb) and A Hare Breadth (10st 10lb) from Ben Pauling’s stable.

Cheltenham, meanwhile, is to take entries for a long-distance handicap chase on the conventional course which could replace the cross-country contest on Friday week’s card.

The cross-country race might be postponed to the January fixture, as the going on that course was described as hard, firm in places yesterday.

Not enough rain is forecast in the interim and watering will not be enough to ease conditions sufficiently.

Entries for the replacement race will be open on Saturday and a decision on the cross-country race will be made early next week, after the senior course inspector for the British Horseracing Authority assessed the ground in a visit to the track on Tuesday.

“The likelihood of us having a deluge of rainfall over the weekend is diminishing. What we were forecast between now and next Friday has gone down in quantity,” said clerk of the course Simon Claisse.

“The cross-country course is still hard, firm in places. We’re doing what we can with the watering on it, but it’s not going to make any difference in the period of time that we have.

“We are going ahead with our plan to put up an alternative opportunity for trainers to enter on Saturday and we will make a decision in the early part of next week.

“We’re not optimistic about the weather being sufficiently helpful.

“The BHA senior course inspector came on Tuesday. I thought it was firm, hard in places and he reckoned it was hard, firm in places, so we’re further away than we need to be.”


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