GRANDS Crus is 9-4 favourite with the sponsors after a field of 20 was declared for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham tomorrow.
David Pipe’s bold jumping grey is on a retrieval mission in the first major handicap of the new National Hunt season.
He appeared to have the world at his feet when winning the Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day in a quicker time than that which Kauto Star won the King George.
Yet he was only seen once more, when finishing an 18-length fourth to Bobs Worth in the RSA Chase at the Festival in March.
Grands Crus enjoyed a breeze up Pipe’s gallops yesterday morning and the trainer tweeted: “Gerry Supple worked Grands Crus this morning and he went well... he says only two sleepless nights left!”
With Paul Nicholls saddling Poquelin for the third year running it means Casey Top, Finger Onthe Pulse, Questions Answered and Gilbarry are running from out of the handicap.
Henry Daly’s Kingsmere, however, is running off his correct weight with just 10st.
The seven-year-old looked like playing a huge part in the finish of a hot novice chase at the last meeting as he was in front when he fell two out.
“I honestly don’t know if Kingsmere would have won but he was running a very good race. You couldn’t tell, but he would have definitely been there or thereabouts,” said Daly.
Hunt Ball aims to continue his progression for his popular owner Anthony Knott and trainer Keiran Burke after rising 88lb in the ratings last season.
Nicholls also runs Grade One winner Al Ferof and Aerial, who finished fourth at a big price last year, while Nicky Henderson has a strong hand with last year’s runner-up Quantitativeeasing, Nadiya De La Vega, Tanks For That and Triolo D’Alene.
Tom Cooper’s veteran Forpadydeplasterer, Casey Top and Questions Answered are the three Irish raiders.