Gold Cup target for Carlingford Lough

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THE Cheltenham Gold Cup is Carlingford Lough’s next target after the nine-year-old’s unforgettable victory in Ireland’s Hennessy Gold Cup under jockey AP McCoy.

The John Kiely-trained gelding snatched the spoils at Leopardstown just over 24 hours after McCoy announced he is to retire by the end of the season.

If the JP McManus-owned horse was to provide McCoy with a third triumph in steeplechasing’s blue riband race after Mr Mulligan (1997) and Synchronised (2012), there is a possibility he could retire on the spot.

He has made clear that he would like to quit at the top and in the iconic green and gold silks of his boss.

“I don’t see why he can’t go for the Gold Cup after that. It’s an open race,” said Frank Berry, racing manager to McManus.

“You’d like to think they all performed up to their best on Sunday.”

Kings Palace returned “a bit stiff” after his win at Newbury on Saturday, but trainer David Pipe said he would not swap him for anything else in the RSA Chase field.

He only faced one rival and made blunders at the same open ditch on both circuits, but still won with his head in his chest to take his total to three wins in as many starts over fences.

Pipe reports his charge be on course for the Festival, although he will be taken out of the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup leaving the RSA Chase as his target.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has been dealt a blow with the news that top grey Al Ferof has a problem which will force him to miss his intended run in the Betfair Ascot Chase this weekend and the Cheltenham Festival.

Michael Scudamore’s ever popular Monbeg Dude heads the 16 entries for the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock on Saturday.