Kings Palace raises Pipe’s hopes for Cheltenham visit

Trainer David Pipe.
Trainer David Pipe.
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DAVID PIPE is hopeful, rather than confident, that Kings Palace can confirm his class by winning today’s Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

The seven-year-old has a formidable record at Cheltenham, having won four times from six previous visits, but has crucially disappointed when well-fancied at the last two Festivals.

His three victories over fences at Prestbury Park have been achieved by dominating small fields – the opposite of what he will encounter today.

Pipe revealed his charge has not been altogether convincing in the jumping department at home in recent weeks, which led to the trainer pondering his participation, but he gave him the green light after a pleasing session under stable jockey Tom Scudamore, who only returned from injury earlier this week.

Pipe said: “Kings Palace has not been as exuberant in his schooling as he was last season and I’ve been keen for Tom to school him, which he hasn’t been able to do for a while because of his knee.

“But he schooled him earlier in the week, Tom was pleased and that was the final piece of the jigsaw. If the real Kings Palace turns up, we think he’s capable of running a big race.”

Pipe also saddles Monetaire while Yorkshire hopes rest with Malcolm Jefferson’s Oscar Rock who was an impressive winner at Market Rasen back in September under big race jockey Brian Hughes.

“We’re very happy with the horse – he seems in very good order,” said the Malton trainer. “It’s a tough race and it’s not going to be easy, but these races never are.”

Top dual purpose trainer Brian Ellison is double-handed in tomorrow’s Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham when he saddles stablemates Totalize and Serenity Now.

The former has not run over hurdles since January 2014 but Malton-based Ellison is bullish.

“He’s been to Bangor for one of those schooling races and he went really well,” he said. “He didn’t run over hurdles last year so it was just to get his eye in. I’d be disappointed if he’s not in the shake-up – his owner has backed him. Serenity Now has been in good form, so we may as well have a go.”

Meanwhile, former Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Sprinter Sacre lines up in the Shloer Chase – his performance will indicate whether Nicky Henderson’s former champion has retained his zest for jumping or be retired.

Faugheen’s recent work on the Curragh gallops convinced Willie Mullins the Champion Hurdle hero is ready for action at Punchestown tomorrow.

Unbeaten in 10 starts under Rules, the gifted seven-year-old is one of six contenders, including stablemates Nichols Canyon and Wicklow Brave, for the Morgiana Hurdle.

York Racecourse was named the best in Britain at the National Racecourse Showcase Awards.

As well as the coveted main title, the ever popular course came first in the category awards for the best groundstaff, best food and drink and best experience for owners.