Pitman's blessed relief

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The Independent Online

Hard-to-train Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup hero Ever Blessed has been given a clean bill of health.

Hard-to-train Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup hero Ever Blessed has been given a clean bill of health.

Mark Pitman has made no firm plans for the gelding, whom he has described as being "like a fine piece of china".

But he stressed bookmakers were being "a little rash" to slash the seven-year-old's price for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Ever Blessed has a history of training problems and did not work with another horse before his three-and-a-half length triumph over Spendid at Newbury at Saturday.

Pitman spent several days deliberating whether the ground would be safe enough to run the gelding at Newbury.

But he said on Sunday: "I'm very pleased with Ever Blessed. Chris Day came last night to give him some acupuncture and he came out this morning as well as we could have hoped.

"There are no definite targets. He's in the Welsh National but we will have to see how we go. He isn't in the King George so we can't go down that route."

William Hill quote Ever Blessed at 25-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup but his trainer added: "I think the bookmakers are a little rash - he has a long way to go yet."

Pitman was completing a family treble in the Hennessy after his father Richard's win as a jockey on Charlie Potheen in 1972 and mother Jenny's as a trainer with Burrough Hill Lad in 1984.

But there were no all-night celebrations. "We all went out last night, about 14 of us, and had a bit of dinner which was nice," he said. "But we didn't stay out too late as we were too tired!"

Pitman is already turning his thoughts to bidding for another big prize.

Monsignor, successful in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper last March and an impressive winner on his hurdling debut at Ascot last weekend, is entered in Friday's Grade Two Bovis Europe Winter Novices' Hurdle at Sandown.

His trainer said: "He's very well and it's quite likely he'll run. He's a high-class horse and zipped in the other day. Hopefully he can do the same again."

Others entered in Friday's race, won by subsequent Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle winner Barton last year, include Nigel Twiston-Davies' Uttoxeter Grade Two victor Gentle Rivage.