Eldorado Allen remains on course for the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup despite finishing a modest fifth to Zanza when bidding for back-to-back Denman Chase successes at Newbury.
The well-supported nine-year-old disputed the lead before being headed four out in a race was run in a time over 13 seconds quicker than standard.
Owned by John Romans and Terry Warner, Eldorado Allen has won four of his 16 starts over fences and was a creditable third to Allaho in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham following his victory in the Denman Chase last season.
Trainer Joe Tizzard is keen to return to Prestbury Park next month for the blue riband event, although admitted Eldorado Allen, who is a general 66-1 chance, would be vying for minor honours.
“There was a bit of disappointment, but as it turned out they went too quick,” said Tizzard of his latest effort under Brendan Powell.
“The front three horses took each other on and blew themselves out. It was a very fast time and it suited hold-up horses.
“In hindsight, we should have just settled in behind the front two, but those were not the tactics going out there, so I think you can just put a line through that run.
“John and Terry are still keen to run in a Gold Cup, so we’ll take our chance and he might run into a place at best.”
Meanwhile, Elixir De Nutz, who finished a creditable runner-up to Funambule Sivola in the Game Spirit Chase on the same card, looks set to go back up in trip.
Owned by Warner, the nine-year-old has proved ultra consistent, winning three of his 11 starts over fences and finishing runner-up on another four occasions.
Though he stayed on well after finding the pace a little quick in the extended two-mile Grade Two event, Tizzard feels he will be better with added distance.
“Unless it is a bit soft, two and a half miles will be his thing now,” said the Dorset handler.
“It was a lovely run. The handicapper was sensible and put him up about 2lb.
“We’ll enter him in the Grand Annual and the two-and-a-half-miler (the Craft Irish Whiskey Co. Plate Handicap Chase, over two miles and five furlongs).
“If the ground went soft, he might stay at two (for the Grand Annual), but two and a half is ideal for him.”
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/265256142-scaled.jpg12802560Geegeez Newshttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/geegeez_banner_new_170x78.pngGeegeez News2023-02-19 13:21:562023-02-19 13:25:16Eldorado Allen will go for Cheltenham gold, with line put through Newbury
Hitman has the opportunity to put his King George disappointment behind him when he lines up in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury.
A head second in the Old Roan at Aintree on his seasonal bow, the Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old went on to record an impressive 11-length success in a Haydock graduation chase before pulling up in Kempton’s Christmas showpiece on Boxing Day.
However, the champion trainer is willing to put a line through that performance and is backing the Falco gelding to bounce back in a Grade Two contest he holds a fine record in.
The Ditcheat handler has won this twice in the last four years, with both Clan Des Obeaux (2019) and Secret Investor (2021) finding the scoresheet, while the likes of Kauto Star, Denman himself and Silviniaco Conti also feature on the roll of honour for Nicholls.
“It’s been a very good race for us and has always been a very good race on the way to Cheltenham,” said Nicholls.
“Kauto Star won it, Denman won it, all sorts of good horses have won it. Secret Investor beat Clan Des Obeaux one year and Clan went on to win at Aintree.
“It’s a good race, I love winning it, obviously with it being named after Denman.
“Hitman was very fancied in the King George on soft ground. He got a little bit behind then made a really bad mistake which took him out of the race, you can basically put a line through that run.
“He loves good ground, he won at Newbury on decent ground two years ago.
“He’s in good shape and it will tell us if he gets the three miles well, then we can run him over a trip and if he doesn’t then he could end up in the Ryanair.
“He’s very very well and I think he’s got a great chance.”
The Tizzard family are another operation with a fine record in this contest thanks to three-time winner Native River, while Eldorado Allen added to the Venn Farm tally 12 months ago.
That was the nine-year-old’s first try over three miles, but the defending champion has matured into the distance this season to such an extent that Joe Tizzard has reached for a pair of cheekpieces.
“He rarely runs a bad race,” his pilot Brendan Powell told TalkSPORT 2. “I believe he is highest rated on Saturday and after the King George at Kempton, myself and Joe just came to the conclusion to try a bit of headgear on him.
“He’s declared in cheekpieces on Saturday, just to probably make my life a little easier. Last season he was winning a Haldon Gold Cup over two miles, but he made hard work of the King George from a long way out at Kempton and you definitely can’t question his stamina now.
“When we ran in the Denman last year over three miles on good ground I wasn’t convinced he was an out-and-out stayer, but the way he ran at Haydock (Betfair Chase) in soft ground behind Protektorat, it seems stamina is his thing now, so a pair of cheekpieces should hopefully make my life easier and it would be nice to see him get his head in front again.”
Kim Bailey’s Does He Know has seen his Cheltenham victory in November franked since and his handler believes the eight-year-old deserves his chance to test himself in graded company.
He said: “It was a tough race for him (at Cheltenham), it took a lot out of him and we’ve given him plenty of time to come back.
“The plan was to either come here or go to Haydock next weekend and when we looked at the declarations, we felt he was better off running off almost level weights than being the top-end of the handicap, so he deserves his chance to run in a graded race like this and good luck to him.
“Out of this and the Cotswold Chase, this is always the weaker of the two because it falls closer to Cheltenham. I just hope he behaves because the last time he went to Newbury he behaved very badly – he went through the wing in the Challow Hurdle if you remember.
“He seems in a good place and we’re really happy with him, now it’s simply a question of how he behaves.”
Wetherby’s Rowland Meyrick form will be put to the test when the third Fanion D’Estruval represents Venetia Williams at a venue he has tasted success at in the past, while Kalashnikov faded into sixth on that occasion when making his comeback from a long absence, but Amy Murphy’s stable stalwart is another with some of his finest hours in Berkshire.
“He’s in good form,” said Murphy. “It looks a very good race on paper, but we know he likes Newbury so we thought we would take our chance.
“You would have to think that Newbury is one of his favourite tracks, so hopefully it is worth us being there.
“He had a good blow at Wetherby, so we very much hope he has taken a step forward from that.”
Anthony Honeyball’s Sam Brown and the Philip Hobbs-trained Zanza complete the seven-strong field.
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