Racing: Beef Or Salmon in the pink for Gold Cup

We are now into the time of doomsday workouts, the pre-Cheltenham Festival mornings when flints and stones mysteriously appear to rise to the surface of gallops around Europe. One wrong step in the run-up to next week's sports at Prestbury Park and you might not be history.

Beef Or Salmon, the enfant terrible of Irish racing, at least managed to avoid the natural booby traps at Michael Hourigan's Limerick yard yesterday and has just one final piece of exercise to conduct today before he is shipped to England.

Beef Or Salmon worked eight times over Hourigan's three-furlong woodchip gallop with, among others, the veteran Dorans Pride, whom Hourigan confirmed will take his chance in the Foxhunters' Chase on what will be his seventh trip to the Festival.

Clonmel's Minella (National Hunt Chase) and Hicloi (Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle) also featured, but it was the young pretender, with Hourigan's son Michael jnr on board, and the old stager, ridden by the trainer's daughter Kay, who figured at the head of the group.

"They are fit and well and don't need any hardship at this stage," Hourigan said. "Beef Or Salmon will do his last serious bit of work tomorrow over a mile and five furlongs and that will be it. I'm looking forward to it.

"Dorans Pride was an unlucky loser of the Gold Cup when he was favourite in 1998, making a bad mistake two out which cost him his momentum. This fellow has more class and jumps quicker. Dorans was a tremendous horse for us but just tended to leave out the odd fence in a race and that cost him dearly at the highest level.

"It would be a wonderful fairytale for Timmy Murphy if he could win the Gold Cup after what he's been through, but I'll only get excited if the horse wins – you have plenty of disappointments in this game."

The reigning Champion Hurdler, Hors La Loi III, also managed to avoid the organic masonry yesterday as he worked under Tony Dobbin on the Newmarket trial grounds. Unfortunately for his trainer, James Fanshawe, he has also avoided the brilliance of last March in his subsequent races, including last month's run in the Kingwell Hurdle.

"He's better on a stiffer track like Cheltenham and he will be right for the day," Dobbin said. "There's no one better than Mr Fanshawe to get one ready. He was a different horse today than he was at Wincanton and I'm looking forward to it. He ripped the arms out of me this morning, I couldn't hold on to him.

"I schooled him over five hurdles. I had a lead off Persian Waters and by the time I got to the last I was five lengths clear. Then we worked a mile and a half and he felt really, really well.

"It's obviously competitive and I know Rhinestone Cowboy is very short [odds] but I've followed him round a couple of times this year and nobody has impressed me more. He's the one we all have to beat." Yet another stone getting in the way.

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