Bayan looks likely to swerve Cheltenham for French race

Ladbroke Hurdle winner Bayan is on target for the Prix Juigne at Auteuil on March 1 which would make him unlikely to take up his entry in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.

Bayan looks  likely to swerve Cheltenham for French race

Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old has been a star for connections, rarely running a bad race either on the Flat or over hurdles.

He is prominent in the betting for the Coral Cup with the sponsors but part-owner Gary O’Brien said he would only run if something untoward to happen before the French race which is worth €135,000.

“Plan A is to go to France,” said O’Brien. “We’ve put him in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham just in case something happens like he has travel issues or something.

“He certainly wouldn’t run in both.”

Bayan is one of 156 entries in the Coral Cup with Activial, Quick Jack and Regal Encore the 10-1 co-favourites.

In total there were a mammoth 1023 entries for the 11 handicaps, with Grand National favourite Shutthefrontdooor one of the 89 in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase on the first day.

The Cheltenham Club Novices’ Handicap Chase has 65 possibles, including Nick Gifford’s course winner Generous Ransom.

Paddy Power one-two Caid Du Berlais and Johns Spirit could re-oppose in the £90,000 Grade Three Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, for which 86 were entered.

Monbeg Dude has been put in the Kim Muir as well as the Ultima Business Solutions, with Irving and Tiger Roll among 123 in the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle.

David Pipe has 11 of 190 in the race named after his father, Martin Pipe, while Nicky Henderson has three in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual, for which there are 62 possibles.

The one race in which numbers are particularly down is the Glenfarclass Cross Country Chase with only 28 revealed. Five of those hail from France. There are 70 in the Fred Winter, with Golden Doyen likely to be near the head of the weights, while Grand National winner Pineau De Re is one of 65 in the Pertemps Network Final, a race he ran so well in last year before Aintree.

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