All eyes on Cheltenham

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  • Looking ahead to the action at Cheltenham’s race meeting this weekend

    Henrietta Knight, whose Best Mate is on course for the King George V1 Chase on Boxing Day, can limber up with some high spirits for the festive season when Foly Pleasant runs in the Tripleprint Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.

    Foly Pleasant chased home Shooting Light in the Thomas Pink Gold Cup over the course last month and Knight believes conditions should be more in his favour with slightly more give underfoot this time.

    “I would like to think he goes there with a good chance of going one better than last month,” says the Wantage trainer.

    Shooting Light’s trainer Martin Pipe also saddles Ilnamar, who was an encouraging fifth behind stable companion Cyfor Malta on his reappearance at Newbury at the beginning of the month. A P McCoy will be aboard Shooting Light. The Pipe team is completed by topweight Upgrade and the lightly weighted Cadougold.

    However, Whitenzo, from the Paul Nicholls stable, is considered the principal threat to Foly Pleasant after a promising sixth behind Lord York at Ascot first time out.

    Whitenzo proved himself a talented recruit to the chasing game last winter and will appreciate every drop of rain that falls on Cheltenham.

    Dusk Duel passed the post with sore feet when finishing third to Wahiba Sands and Best Mate at Ascot, but he schooled”brilliantly” on Thursday morning, according to jockey Mick Fitzgerald.

    Trainer Nicky Henderson was clearly satisfied enough to let Dusk Duel take his chance.

    Henderson saddles his recent Fighting Fifth Hurdle winner Landing Light for the Victor Chandler Bula Hurdle. He left something to work on at Newcastle and hopes for further improvement from Landing Light, who could go on to run in the Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day. But first he must prove his worth here.

    Magnus, the most expensive jumper bought at public auction for the equivalent of £340,000 in France, makes his English debut for new owner David Johnson and trainer Martin Pipe in the first. It will be a major shock if he is beaten.

    Jonjo O’Neill has decided to run the fragile Legal Right in the Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock in preference to the Tripleprint. Legal Right was a trifle disappointing behind Sackville at Wetherby, but if he’s on song will take all the beating here.

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