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Wednesday 9 January 2013

Fly me to the Moon !

The dream grows for connections of Coral Welsh National winner Monbeg Dude after he was handed an entry for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on Wednesday.

Trained by Michael Scudamore for a syndicate that includes rugby union stars James Simpson-Daniel and Mike Tindall, Monbeg Dude saw his rating climb by a further 10lb to an official mark of 138 following his Chepstow triumph, having also gone up 7lb for his victory at Cheltenham in November.
With Gold Cup winners having an average official rating in the 170s over the past decade, Scudamore admits Monbeg Dude requires significant further improvement to earn his place in the field, although a satisfying performance in the Haydock Grand National Trial next month could result in his Cheltenham entry being taken up.

Should Monbeg Dude head for the Gold Cup on March 15 - for which he was a 66-1 shot with the sponsors on Wednesday - he would be attempting a double, although not necessarily in the same season, completed by Synchronised last year and also in the last 30 years by Burrough Hill Lad, Cool Ground and Master Oats.

Scudamore said: "It's probably very, very speculative and he'll have to go to Haydock next month and be very impressive there. We're probably getting carried away and dreaming but if he was very impressive at Haydock and it came up very soft at Cheltenham we'd be disappointed that we didn't spend £600 to put him in. We'll keep all doors open for now."

A total of 40 entries were made for the Gold Cup, and following a pounding from the weather over the last few months, a few days of sunshine has helped Cheltenham’s ground stage a recovery.

The next meeting at Cheltenham takes place on Saturday, January 26, with fresh ground to be opened up for the Festival in March afterwards.

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said on Wednesday: “I’d probably call the ground soft, good to soft in places and it’s recovered well. Up until New Year’s Day we averaged an inch a week for nine months and had the best part of three inches in the ten days before we called it off. It took five days to dry out to a stage where it was raceable.

“The forecast for next week is a bit colder and I’m sure at some stage we’ll get more frost that the one week we had in December. The ground we race on between October and January is different to that we use in March which is behind rails and hasn’t been used since.

Racing Post

Another interesting entry is Venetia Williams improving french bred gelding Katenko. Following his good win from John's Spirit at Sandown last weekend he has been raised 11lb to 147 - He is currently available at 66/1  with Bet Victor for the Gold Cup and he could be anything.
"He gallops and jumps and he´d maintain that gallop all day. I´m sure the National will be on his agenda one day, and although he´s only seven he´s very sure-footed and you would swear he had been doing it all his life". - Aidan Coleman, jockey

Tom George is in great form at the moment with sevearl wins in the last 14 days and his Gold Cup dark horse Mail De Bievre (66/1) could reappear at Newbury next month. The eight-year-old was a high-class performer in France but has not been seen since running over hurdles in September 2011.
Tom George said in arecent interview: "Mail De Bievre has been with me for a couple of months. He came over from France a year ago and did his pre-training with Chloe Roddick before joining me. He is a very exciting horse to have in the yard. He had an injury but touch wood hopefully he has got over that. We are just taking things one step at a time with him. So far, everything is going according to plan. The plan is to go for the Denman Chase at Newbury with him as that looks a good place to start. You don't know with horses until they run, but he looks right and is showing us all the right signs. Newbury will tell us where we are with him. His form in France is the best. I asked the handicapper just out of interest what his mark would be and they said as his last mark in France was 175, they would now rate him 160 due to the time he has been off the track."