Cobden looking forward to Sonnet challenge

Ante-post favourite Saint Sonnet is among 17 five-day confirmations in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The five-year-old joined the Paul Nicholls stable from France last season and has had runs to date for the Ditcheat trainer.

After getting off the mark first time when long odds-on at Catterick, Saint Sonnet was thrown in at the deep end in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

He shaped promisingly when seventh to Samcro after stumbling at the final fence.

Saint Sonnet was ridden by Harry Cobden on both occasions, and the title-chasing jockey is looking forward to continuing the partnership.

“I wouldn’t ride another one over him,” he told Sky Sports Racing.

“That (Cheltenham) was a great run. Obviously, he’s had a much better preparation this year.

“Fingers crossed he’ll run a tidy race.”

Happy Diva (right) is set to defend her crown in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham
Happy Diva (right) is set to defend her crown in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham (Nigel French/PA)

One of his main market rivals is Harry Whittington’s Simply The Betts, winner of the Brown Advisory & Merribelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase at the Festival. Happy Diva, runner-up that day and winner of this race 12 months ago, is also in the mix.

Brelan D’As was beaten a neck by Happy Diva in the 2019 renewal and gives Nicholls a decent second string.

The weights are headed by the Venetia Williams-trained Aso, while other hopefuls include Mister Fisher, Al Dancer, Slate House and Spiritofthegames.

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