Mister Whitaker and Rather Be, who fought out a pulsating finish at the Cheltenham Festival, are joint-favourites with the sponsors for the BetVictor Gold Cup following the unveiling of the weights.
Colin Tizzard’s 2016 King George winner Thistlecrack sits at the top of the list, and would be conceding upwards of 4lb if he takes his chance at Cheltenham on November 17.
Old Roan winner Frodon (11st 8lb), Cloudy Dream (11st 4lb) and Sizing Granite (11st 3lb) are others towards the top.
Mister Whitaker, who won on his reappearance at Carlisle on Sunday, has been allotted 10st 13lb – with Nicky Henderson’s Rather Be on 10st 10lb.
Emma Lavelle is keen to run Javert (10st 11lb) after his good effort in the Old Roan behind Frodon.
“We are delighted with Javert. He ran a brilliant race in the Old Roan behind Frodon. He jumped and travelled really well, and handled the step up in class,” she said.
“We were thrilled with him at Uttoxeter in September – when he won despite having been off the track for so long.
“I think the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham will remain the plan.”
Neil Mulholland is likely to run both Kalondra (10st 9lb) and Shantou Village (10st 4lb).
“Kalondra has been good since Galway – and we have had the BetVictor Gold Cup in mind for a while, because he has run well at Cheltenham before,” said Mulholland.
“I would like to think he will be very competitive off of his current mark (148). I don’t think we have got to the bottom of him yet, and I think he can improve a bit more.
“Shantou Village will take his chance as well. He also has form at the track.”
Harry Fry’s If The Cap Fits is 8-1 favourite with the sponsors for the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle, on November 18, having been allotted 11st 7lb.
Dan Skelton is eyeing the race for Nube Negra, third in the Fred Winter in March and fifth when upped to Grade One company at Aintree behind We Have A Dream.
“Nube Negra is in good form at home. I am looking forward to him running this season and I hope he can be an exciting horse for us,” said Skelton.
“He was entered last weekend, but I think the Greatwood is where I want to start him off. He ran a nice race in the Fred Winter at The Festival last season.
“He is only a four-year-old and has to race against older horses, which is never an easy task, especially in a competitive race like the Greatwood – but I really like him and I am hopeful of a good season before heading chasing next year.”
Old Guard has been given top weight, with Gumball and Alan King’s Redicean among those not far behind.
“Redicean ran well at Cheltenham in October,” said King.
“He was trying to give a stone and a pound to the winner (Pearl Of The West). It was a good run – and I was happy enough, because the winner was race-fit.
“He is entered in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle back at Cheltenham, and that is something we could look at running in.”
Charles Byrnes’ Off You Go (11st 7lb) looks the pick of the Irish team at this stage, with Golden Spear and Ivanovich Gorbatov also in the mix.
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