Merely The Betts and Protektorat prime the weights for the Paddy Energy Gold Cup after a most subject of 20 was declared for the precious handicap chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.
The unique prime weight, Assemble, was withdrawn on the 48-hour remaining declaration stage on Thursday leaving the Paul Nicholls-trained Merely The Betts and Dan Skelton’s Protektorat, part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, on the head of the record.
Nicholls additionally has main ante-post fancy Lalor, previously skilled by Kayley Woollacott, going for honours whereas Skelton has Spiritofthegames, who was runner-up 12 months in the past.
Final yr’s winner Coole Cody, skilled by Evan Williams, bids to grow to be solely the sixth horse to land the prize twice with the final being Cyfor Malta in 1998 and 2002.
Al Dancer, who was third in 2020 when with Nigel Twiston-Davies, bids to go two locations higher for Sam Thomas.
Others within the combine embrace Nicky Henderson’s Caribean Boy, Sue Smith’s Midnight Shadow and the Brian Ellison-trained Nietzsche, winner of the Greatwood Hurdle in 2018.
Skelton’s Third Time Lucki, vastly spectacular on the October assembly, faces three rivals within the Grade Two From The Horse’s Mouth Podcast Novices’ Chase.
Two of these are Dr Richard Newland’s Captain Tom Cat and Nicholls’ Mick Pastor, first and second within the “Rising Stars” Novices’ Chase at Wincanton final week. Tom Lacey’s Sebastopol additionally runs.
Philip Hobbs’ Sporting John returns over the smaller obstacles within the Paddy Energy Video games Handicap Hurdle.
A Grade One-winning novice chaser final time period, he has had a wind operation since disappointing at Cheltenham and Aintree within the spring.
There are 9 runners within the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle with Nicholls’ Magistrato catching the attention on his British debut at Chepstow.