Locals target Cheltenham’s International

Astracad - dual Cheltenham winner

Gloucestershire trainers are gearing up a strong contingent of horses for the feature steeplechase at the Cheltenham International meeting next month.

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Early entries for the £100,000 Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Challenge Gold Cup show four local horses amongst the 36 initial entries, with a Nigel Twiston-Davies pair at the head of the field. He has made a strong start at Cheltenham this year with four winners at the Showcase and Open meetings. He has track regular Astracad earmarked for an attempt at a third course win on 15 December. He tuned up for the race with a fourth placed finish in the paddypower.com Handicap there on his seasonal debut last month.

If Have You Seen Me lines up it will be his first race since a novice handicap chase at Cheltenham in April 2011, so you have to think he will need the run before he records a second chase win.

The Rainbow Hunter, from Kim Bailey’s yard is already a winner this season, having followed up a Towcester success at the end of last season by picking up his biggest prize at Ascot last Saturday. He was a surprise winner then at 16/1, but looks to be an improving horse. As a result, the handicapper has put him up 5lb to a rating of 140.
The Rainbow Hunter changed ownership at Royal Ascot during the summer, and now runs in the colours of a group going under the name of the May We Never Be Found Out Partnership, and the win saw the successful culmination of a plan hatched immediately after he was sold. Bailey was at Royal Ascot when he bumped into racehorse owner Kevin Clancy, to whom he suggested buying the chaser.

The deal was soon done, and as Clancy has a box at Ascot, owner and trainer agreed to target a race there so the owners could watch from their box. Maybe they will need to take a box at Cheltenham soon.

Havingotascoobydo makes up the Gloucestershire quarter for trainer Martin Keighley. He had an entry in the Paddy Power, but Keighley felt that race had the potential to knock the horse’s confidence, He planned to send him to Ascot instead, but it took a little longer than expected to get over some niggly problems, so he didn’t go there either. The horse is now over those, and will run on 15 December if there is no recurrence.

There will be plenty of other horses aiming to take the prize away from Gloucestershire, with Alan King aiming Walkon at the race, and last year’s winner Quantitativeeasing scheduled to represent Nicky Henderson.

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