Tidal takes Argento test

TIDAL BAY’S performance in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham this weekend will dictate whether or not he runs in the Gold Cup in March.

Howard Johnson’s mercurial character gave the reigning champion Imperial Commander a late scare in the Betfair Chase at Haydock when he closed to within a a length and a quarter of the Gold Cup favourite.

That was arguably his best run over fences since he won the 2008 Arkle but he did win the Cleeve Hurdle on the same card 12 months ago.

His owner Graham Wylie said: “Tidal Bay’s in the Argento Chase at the weekend and that’s where we are going to go with him.

“He ran a good race last time and is in good form.

“This will tell us whether we go to the Gold Cup with him or not.”

Also among the entries is Paul Webber’s Time For Rupert, the short priced favourite for the RSA Chase who is being thrown in at the deep end against more experienced rivals.

Nicky Henderson has entered Punchestowns, who has the Aon Chase an an alternative target.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has entered Neptune Collonges, The Tother One and Taranis, last year’s winner.

Paddy Power winner Little Josh, Madison du Berlais, 2009 Grand National winner Mon Mome and The Sawyer complete the 10 entries.

Webber confirmed that Time For Rupert was on course for the race and that he came through a schooling session on Monday morning in fine shape.

“He’s in very good form and sends his best wishes to all his fans,” said Webber.

“He schooled this morning with Will (Kennedy) and that all went well and we head to the Argento on Saturday.”

Madison du Berlais could take his chance after Saturday’s meeting at Haydock, featuring his intended target of the Peter Marsh Chase, was abandoned.

“It’s not ideal going back to Cheltenham, but it’s hard to find races for him now,” said trainer David Pipe.

“We would have liked to have gone to Haydock, but we thought it was worth giving him an entry as it’s a small field.”

Meanwhile trainer Robin Dickin reports Restless Harry to be in good shape ahead of the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday for which there were 19 entries.

The seven-year-old has performed with credit this season without getting his head in front and was a fine third to Big Buck’s in the Long Walk Hurdle on his latest start.

“He seems very well. You’d think he’d be there or thereabouts looking at the entries,” said Dickin.

“He had a trip away and worked last Saturday morning and did it very nicely with a couple of others of mine and he’s in good form.”

David Pipe has given an entry to Grands Crus, who was last seen spreadeagling the opposition in a handicap at Haydock in November.

“I’m not sure if he runs or not yet. I’ll speak to his owners during the week,” said the Nicholashayne trainer.

“He’s fine, he’s in good form and we’ll see about Saturday.”

* THE Dungarvan Harriers point-to-point in Dungarvan, Co Waterford has been rescheduled for Saturday, 29th January. Original entries will stand and the first of six advertised races commences at 12.30 pm.

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