Chantry House will bid to get back on track in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday after a below-par effort in the King George VI Chase.
Nicky Henderson’s dual Grade One winner was sent off 3-1 favourite for Kempton’s Christmas feature but was never travelling well and was pulled up at the 12th fence.
The eight-year-old has the chance to put himself back in the frame for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, for which he is a 16-1 chance.
“The plan is for him to go there. He was very disappointing on the day, in the King George. We couldn’t find the reason for it, but Nicky seems to be very happy in the meantime and hopefully he’ll have a nice run on Saturday,” said Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus.
“You’d like to think the Gold Cup would be the target, but we have to get Saturday out of the way first and see how he gets on.”
Among the eight entries is the novice Ahoy Senor, who holds entries in the Gold Cup and the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Festival. The seven-year-old, trained by Lucinda Russell, was outpointed by Bravemansgame in the Grade One Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton after landing an impressive success by 31 lengths at Newbury in November.
The Polly Gundry-trained Santini, winner of this race in 2020 when he was with the Henderson yard, is also a possibility. The others are Aye Right, Ex Patriot, Kauto Riko, Simply The Betts and Coole Cody, who also holds an entry in the Welsh Marches Stallions At Chapel Stud Cleeve Hurdle.
A Cheltenham Festival winner for Harry Whittington in 2020, Simply The Betts will be having his fourth start for Paul Nicholls in what would be only his second try beyond an extended two and a half miles, the first of those when pulled up at Aintree in December.
Nicholls said: “I’d say that looking at it, if it is dry, we will be going to the Cotswold Chase as the other race (Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase) he would have to be running off 157 which would be very hard.
“If it was testing the ground I wouldn’t want to go three miles one, but it is going to be nice drying ground on Saturday. He loves Cheltenham and he stayed on strongly there last time over the extended two and a half miles.
“Harry (Cobden) said you wouldn’t be afraid to go back up to three miles with him. The one time we tried it at Aintree it was absolutely bottomless.
“He is in good shape and he loves Cheltenham so I think that is the race to run him in. I need to talk to Andrew Brooks and his racing manager before the end of the week, but I’d say that is what I favour.”
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