Green light for Turpin

WITH ante-post favourite Star De Mohaison ruled out of Saturday’s Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup, all eyes will now be on Turpin Green.

The Nicky Richards-trained second-season chaser enjoyed a comfortable preparation for the big race with an effortless success at Carlisle just over two weeks ago.

He strolled home 28 lengths clear of Exotic Dancer that day and despite it being something of a farce of a race due to them hardly raising a gallop in the first mile, the form was given

a great boost when the runner-up won the Paddy Power Gold Cup only five days later.

And Richards has been pleased with the seven-year-old since ahead of one the most historic races on the National Hunt calendar.

“He’s grand. Everything is fine, touch wood,” said the Greystoke handler.

“It was a little bit of a Mickey Mouse race at Carlisle, but on paper before the race he was the best horse and after the race he came out of it the best horse.

“Jonjo’s (O’Neill) horse gave the form a good boost later in the week and he did everything that was expected of him so you couldn’t ask any more.

“He jumped well and travelled well and when (Tony) McCoy went and had a run at him on the run to the ditch my lad picked up and went away from him easily enough.

“My lad prefers to go a good gallop in a race and he’s likely to get it on Saturday.

“He looks to have the right profile for the race, an improving young chaser, but once the handicapper gets them it becomes very tough. Hopefully there is still a bit to come out of my lad yet.

“It’ll still take some winning even though Star De Mohaison isn’t running.

“We’ve looked after him and tried to keep him along the right lines and hopefully even after Saturday we will have a lot of fun with him,” concluded Richards.

Joining Turpin Green at the head of the betting with most firms is the Evan Williams-trained State Of Play, not sighted since a demolition job at Aintree last April.

The exciting six-year-old beat subsequent Betfred Gold Cup winner Lacdoudal by 16 lengths and Williams is not concerned he has not had a run since.

“He’s in great form,” he said. “I couldn’t get the horse any better and ours don’t improve for a run. He’s got a chance of being competitive.”

The news that Star De Mohaison is to miss the race came as a slight surprise and the Royal & SunAlliance Chase winner will now be campaigned with a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in mind.

There will be a maximum field of 27 with the weights headed by Cornish Rebel, another Nicholls inmate, who finished third behind Trabolgan 12 months ago.

It was a fairytale for Mick Fitzgerald that day as he had not been back in the saddle long after a serious neck injury that some feared he would not return from.

This time, Fitzgerald is set to partner Juveigneur for his guv’nor Nicky Henderson and owned, like Trabolgan and Turpin Green, by Trevor Hemmings.

“I think at the moment you can assume that Mick will ride Juveigneur, as I don’t want to run Copsale Lad in soft ground,” said Henderson.

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