Monkerhostin the new Paddy Power favourite

MONKERHOSTIN is the new ante-post favourite for Saturday’s Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham after original market leader Our Vic was ruled out yesterday.

Monkerhostin is among 17 confirmed entries for the £110,000 contest and is set to carry a feather weight as he is considerably better handicapped over fences than hurdles. The seven-year-old was a revelation when switched to Philip Hobbs' stable last season and ended up winning the Coral Cup at Cheltenham.

Currently a 7-2 shot with the sponsors for the big race, Monkerhostin returned to fences on his seasonal reappearance when he just got the better of Vodka Bleu at Stratford last month.

He is joined in Saturday's field by his stablemate and general third favourite Farmer Jack, who was an impressive winner of the totesport Wigan Chase at Aintree recently.

"They are both intended runners and both are fine," said Hobbs.

When asked about Monkerhostin's relative inexperience over fences, he added: "Monkerhostin has been fine at home. Farmer Jack is also in good order."

Our Vic was ruled out of what is traditionally the first jumping 'Classic' of the season after a veterinary examination this morning revealed a muscle tear in a hind leg.

Martin Pipe's six-year-old had been widely supported in the ante-post market for the extended two-and-a-half-mile contest and was a generally available 5-2 favourite as punters looked at the Nicholashayne maestro's good record in the race.

"After working on Saturday morning our vet has looked at him this morning and has found him to have a slight tear in a hind muscle," Pipe told his website www.martinpipe.co.uk.

"Further extensive blood tests have confirmed this and although it is a big blow for the yard, the horse always come first. Our physiotherapist has looked at him and hopefully we can get him right soon."

Pipe and owner David Johnson will, however, be double-handed with Celestial Gold and It Takes Time.

"Timmy Murphy will probably be on Celestial Gold with Jamie Moore on It Takes Time. It is the intention to run them both, assuming they don't pull muscles," Johnson told Teletext. Our Vic will wait for the Tripleprint in three weeks' time."

Following Our Vic's withdrawal, bookmakers Cashmans have decided to refund all win single ante-post bets on the horse.

There are still a number of classy horses among those who held their ground, with top weight set to be carried by Fondmort (11st 12lb)

Irish raider Colca Canyon is not a certain runner, and his trainer Jessica Harrington will be keeping an eye on the weather in the Cotswolds.

The gelding was a well-beaten fifth in the James Nicholson Wine Merchant Champion Chase at Down Royal on Saturday.

"He could go for the Paddy Power Gold Cup but he won't run if the ground is soft. He couldn't jump out of the ground at Down Royal it was too heavy," said the trainer.

Betting - Paddy Power: 7-2 Monkerhostin, 6-1 Thisthatandtother, 7-1 Farmer Jack, 10-1 Ollie Magern, Tikram, 12-1 Fondmort, 14-1 Kelrev, Le Duc, Take The Stand, 16-1 Bar

Ladbrokes: 3-1 Monkerhostin, 5-1 Thisthatandtother, 8-1 Farmer Jack, 10 Fondmort, Ollie Magern, Tikram, 12-1 Take The Stand, 14-1 Colca Canyon, Ground Ball, 16-1 Bar

Cashmans: 7-2 Monkerhostin, 13-2 Farmer Jack, 7-1 Thisthatandtother, 9-1 Fondmort, 10-1 Colca Canyon, 11-1 Take A Stand, Tikram, Le Duc. 12-1 Ollie Magern, 14-1 Bar.

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