MALCOLM Jefferson is keen to let Urban Hymn “do the talking” when his exciting prospect puts his steeplechasing credentials on the line at Cheltenham today.
The Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase, the opening day highlight of the Paddy Power Gold Cup meeting, has an illustrious roll of honour.
As well as being won in recent years by subsequent Gold Cup heroes in Denman and Imperial Commander, Grade One horses such as Grands Crus, Dynaste and Taquin Du Seuil have all proved their mettle in this extended two-and-a-half-mile contest.
Urban Hymn makes the journey from Malton with strong claims, having come up narrowly short against Duke Of Navan in a beginners’ chase at Carlisle last month.
“He ran well at Carlisle, he’s in good order and we’re looking forward to running him down there,” said Jefferson, whose Attaglance has been declared for tomorrow’s Paddy Power Gold Cup.
“It looked a good race at Carlisle. Duke Of Navan is a good horse, he’s maybe a bit quicker than us and he got first run of us.
“Stepping back up to two and a half miles should suit us. We’ll let the horse do the talking.”
Urban Hymn, the mount of the in-form Brian Hughes, features in a fascinating seven-strong field, with Splash Of Ginge sure to be popular for Cotswolds trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and his son Sam, who assumes riding responsibilities.
Meanwhile dual Cheltenham Festival hero Champagne Fever could be the steeplechaser to beat this season after making a sparkling reappearance in the Clonmel Oil Chase yesterday.
Trained by Willie Mullins, the grey was ridden with restraint by Paul Townend yesterday, but Champagne Fever’s jumping improved markedly once allowed to stride to the front with a circuit to run.
William Hill spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke said Champagne Fever was now 8-1 joint second favourite, behind Simonsig, for Kempton’s King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.
Wetherby controversy: See facing page.