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Cheltenham digest: Triolo D'Alene set for 'wide open' Gold Cup

Updated: Sunday, 02 Mar 2014 12:05 | Comments

Triolo D'Alene (left) in action at the Hennessy Gold Cup in December 2013
Triolo D'Alene (left) in action at the Hennessy Gold Cup in December 2013

Triolo D'Alene is set to take his chance in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, said trainer Nicky Henderson.

The Hennessy Gold Cup winner has a clutch of entries at the Cheltenham Festival, but a promising workout on Sunday morning convinced connections to go for the big one.

"He's very good,” Henderson said of Triolo D’Alene. “We were delighted with him. He worked really well.

"He's got to go somewhere, and it [the Gold Cup] looks a wide open race this year."

"We were delighted with him. He worked really well" - Nicky Henderson

Triolo D'Alene has not been seen since his accomplished defeat of Rocky Creek in the Hennessy at Newbury last November, having constantly been blighted by the wet weather.

He is also still in contention for the Crabbie's Grand National at Aintree in April.

Henderson now has an especially strong hand in the Gold Cup as he is responsible for last year's winner Bobs Worth.

Like Triolo D'Alene, the nine-year-old was put through his paces on the Mandown gallops on Sunday morning.

The Seven Barrows handler said: "He's in very good nick and was another who worked well. It was a good morning for us."

Henderson was especially happy with last month's runaway Doncaster scorer Vaniteux, who is now poised to contest the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

The trainer said: "We are excited by him and he worked very well."

Elsewhere, Steve Gollings has secured the services of Jason Maguire for Definitly Red (pictued above with Maguire aboard) in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

The Irish-bred five-year-old goes for the big one on the strength of winning both his starts at Newbury and Uttoxeter since joining the Lincolnshire handler from Ireland, where he claimed the last of his three point-to-points.

"He's a good horse and Jason Maguire has committed to riding him in the Champion Bumper, which is great," said Gollings.

"Daryl Jacob rode him first time out at Uttoxeter and told us he was a proper horse. He wasn't available when we declared to run at Newbury, so Jason rode him and he was just as ebullient about him as Daryl was."

Arthur Moore is keeping his fingers crossed Sea Beat makes the cut for the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

The County Kildare handler saddled What A Charm to win the same Festival prize three years ago and Sea Beat, who carries the same colours, has done little wrong in his three starts over obstacles.

Not disgraced in defeat in races won by Plinth and Ivan Grozny, the four-year-old made it third-time lucky at Naas in early February and is a best priced 16-1 for Cheltenham glory.

However, with a mark of 123, he is still well down the list and needs plenty of those rated higher to withdraw to get into the final field.

Moore said: "I think he'll run as long as he gets in, but it must be less than a 50-50 chance he'll make the cut at this stage.

"We'll have a better idea once the confirmations are out next week, but we'd like to run him if we can.”

Ground conditions will dictate whether talented chaser Module (pictured above) targets the Queen Mother Champion Chase or the Ryanair Chase.

Tom George's seven-year-old made a fine start to the season when narrowly denied by Somersby in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter and was not disgraced when fourth in Huntingdon's Peterborough Chase on his next appearance.

He got off the mark for the campaign when claiming the notable scalp of Dodging Bullets in the Game Spirit at Newbury at the start of February and connections must soon decide on his Festival target.

"I couldn't be happier with the way he's going at the moment,” George said. “He is a maturing horse and has matured a lot since the start of the season.

"We'll keep our options open and see what the ground is going to be like at Cheltenham.”

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