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Gold Cup looms large after A Plus Tard’s Savills win

A Plus Tard’s connections are giving the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup serious consideration after his dramatic victory in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

The six-year-old was only third jumping the final fence on Monday, but then produced a late burst to collar Kemboy and Melon close home.

That was just the second time Henry de Bromhead’s chaser had tackled three miles over fences – having been put in his place by Delta Work as a novice over slightly further in April last year, albeit racing right-handed at Punchestown.

He has not raced that way round since, and De Bromhead is on record suggesting he will not be tempted to ask him to do so again.

The Gold Cup is over a further two and a half furlongs than A Plus Tard’s Leopardstown win, but it is likely to be the objective after he prevailed through stamina in the Savills Chase.

“It was fantastic and a great ride by the young lad (Darragh O’Keeffe),” said Chris Richardson, managing director of owners Cheveley Park Stud.

“It has given us so many more options now to be able to step up in trip. It was very exciting.

“I thought he was going to be third, and we’d have been happy with that.”

Further discussions are therefore now on the agenda.

“Obviously we will talk to Mr (David) Thompson (Cheveley Park owner) and see what he wants to do – but the Gold Cup would be favourite at this point, I would think,” added Richardson.

“We haven’t spoken about it yet. Now we know he stays three miles, that gives so many more options.

“I’d expect him to have one more run before Cheltenham – but that was very special.”

Cheveley Park Stud's Allaho also ran a fine race for Willie Mullins
Cheveley Park Stud’s Allaho also ran a fine race for Willie Mullins (Brian Lawless/PA)

Cheveley Park also had Allaho in the Grade One, and the Willie Mullins-trained gelding was not disgraced in fourth place.

“Allaho ran OK too. He has just taken a while to get fit this year,” said Richardson.

“Willie is telling me he’s just not quite there yet, but we can build on that.”

Sir Gerhard likely to follow Envoi Allen route to Cheltenham

The Dublin Racing Festival is the likely next port of call for Champion Bumper favourite Sir Gerhard.

A £400,000 purchase for Cheveley Park Stud after winning his only start in the point-to-point field, the five-year-old made the perfect start for his new connections when scoring by 14 lengths on his bumper debut at Down Royal in late October.

Gordon Elliott’s charge strengthened his position as ante-post favourite for the Festival in March with an impressive display in a Listed event at Navan on Friday, and an outing at Leopardstown is next on his agenda.

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Chris Richardson, managing director of owners Cheveley Park Stud, said: “He showed plenty of ability (at Navan) and we were very excited.

“Envoi Allen won the Listed race Navan before going to Leopardstown and then Cheltenham and I think we’ll probably follow the same route.”

The leading owners have plenty of high-profile horses entered over the upcoming festive period, headed by the brilliant and unbeaten Envoi Allen, who has options at Leopardstown and Limerick.

Elliott suggested he was likely to sidestep Christmas following his latest triumph in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse, but running plans have not yet been finalised.

Richardson said: “I haven’t really had a chance to discuss plans with the Thompsons (owners) or Gordon yet, so we’ll see.

“We’re in a fortunate position to be a bit spoilt choice and we’re just having to decide what goes where. That will unravel as we go through the next week.”

Envoi Allen has been faultless to date
Envoi Allen has been faultless to date (PA)

Ballyadam could carry the famous Cheveley Park colours in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown on December 27.

Allaho appears unlikely to run in either the King George at Kempton or the Savills Chase at Leopardstown after disappointing on his seasonal reappearance in the John Durkan at Punchestown, but A Plus Tard looks set to tackle three miles for the first time in the Leopardstown race.

Richardson added: “The Royal Bond was the plan for Ballyadam, which he won nicely, and obviously the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham (is a target), but where we go before then I’m not quite sure yet.

“On the basis of Allaho’s last performance we’re probably going to have a bit of a regroup. He’s certainly not going to come to England for the King George and I think Willie (Mulins) will look for something closer to home.

“I think the trick with A Plus Tard is he likes to go left-handed. It looks like he’s going to step up to three miles and it might give us a few more options going forward.”