TOP Yorkshire steeplechaser Cloudy Dream could still run at Cheltenham this weekend after not being declared for the feature BetVictor Gold Cup – one of the top handicaps of the season.
Malcolm Jefferson’s grey – second in last season’s Arkle Trophy to the all-conquering Altior – was a leading ante-post fancy for Saturday’s main event, but was a surprise omission from the list after being inadvertently entered in the preceding three-mile-three-furlong BetVictor Handicap Chase.
As the much respected Malton trainer battles ill-health, his daughter and assistant Ruth has been overseeing the entries and was disconsolate when the error came to light.
However, Sunday’s Shloer Chase reopened after insufficient entries were received, Cloudy Dream could revert to two miles in a race that was won two years ago by steeplechasing superstar Sprinter Sacre.
“We’ve put him in the Shloer on Sunday as that has been reopened,” said Mick Meagher, racing manager to owner Trevor Hemmings.
“Ruth was supposed to confirm him for the BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase and he’s actually ended up in the BetVictor Handicap Chase, the race before.
It’s human error, it will happen again, but we’ll kick onTrevor Hemmings
“It’s human error, it will happen again, but we’ll kick on.
“We’ll make a decision on whether he runs later in the week, but that is where we are at. He’s fully entitled to run in that, he was second in the Arkle,” he added.
Cloudy Dream, an eyecatching second to Smad Place at Aintree on his seasonal reappearance last month, is among 11 entries for the Shloer Chase, with the Nicky Richard-trained Simply Ned another contender for the North.
Special Tiara and Fox Norton, a respective first and second in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in March, are on course to clash again.
However Fox Norton’s participation was thrown into doubt by the death yesterday of Barnsley-born owner Alan Potts.
The one-time miner, who then headed a successful engineering business, passed away just weeks after the death of his wife Ann.
Their green, yellow and red colours have become a familiar sight on he racecourses of Britain and Ireland, notably with former Champion Chase winner Sizing Europe and the reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John.
“It’s a big shock. It wasn’t something we were expecting. I found out through an email from his company this morning,” said Sizing John’s trainer Jessica Harrington.
“He was a certain age but he’d just been away on holiday to Mauritius and Africa and come back. I’ve only trained for him for just over a year but we’ve been incredibly lucky together. It was a fantastic year.”
Though Sizing John continues to be trained in Ireland by Harrington, most of the Potts horses are stabled in Britain with Colin Tizzard. The owner, renowned for his abrasiveness and reluctance to give interviewes, recently appointed former Gold Cup-winning jockey Bryan Cooper to ride his horses in Britain.
John Gosden’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine Enable was named horse of the year at last night’s Cartier Racing Awards ceremony.
Record-breaking trainer Aidan O’Brien’s Happily was named two-year-old filly of the year, beating Karl Burke’s Laurens amongst others, while Eclipse and Juddmonte International hero Ulysses was named older horse of the year ahead of Richard Fahey’s now retired Ribchester.
Ulysses is trained by Sir Michael Stoute who received a special award of merit.
Former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree, pulled up in this month’s Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, heads the 45 horses declared for The Ladbrokes Trophy – formerly the Hennessy – at Newbury on December 2.
Meanwhile top jockey Sam Twiston-Davies is hoping to return to the saddle in time for the high-profile meeting after breaking an elbow in a fall at Sandown on Sunday from his father Nigel’s Double Ross.
Faugheen is in line to make his long-awaited return to action in Sunday’s Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.
Winner of the 2015 Champion Hurdle for Willie Mullins, Faugheen has not run since winning the Irish Champion Hurdle in January 2016 due to injury.