Racing: Cheltenham gain Paddy Power to back Open

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The Independent Online

Paddy Power has taken over at Cheltenham - this time as sponsors rather than in the bars and betting rings. The firm of Irish bookmakers is the new backer of The Open meeting which kickstarts top-quality racing at Prestbury Park in November. The Paddy Power Gold Cup, run on the Saturday of the three-day meeting, will be worth £110,000.

The chase was briefly backed by Thomas Pink, who surprisingly pulled out last year, and prior to that by Whitbread, latterly under the brand name of Murphy's but for over 30 years before carrying the name of the Mackeson Gold Cup.

Paddy Power's sponsorship is over five years, which may help avoid an association as short as that of the previous sponsor. The firm, established in 1988, is the biggest bookmaker in Ireland and have also established a presence in Britain. This is its first sponsorship in Britain but it backs a valuable Leopardstown chase.


Van Nistelrooy, the world's most expensive yearling sold at auction in 2001, has been retired from racing due to injury. The son of Storm Cat, who cost John Magnier and partners $6.4m (£3.8m), will now shuffle off the main racing stage to Trelawney Stud in New Zealand. Trained by Aidan O'Brien to win his first three races as a two-year-old and earn short odds for the 2,000 Guineas, Van Nistelrooy has not raced since finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Arlington in October.

Four juveniles trained by Richard Hannon head 29 acceptors for Saturday's Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury. The trainer has landed the event four times in its 12 runnings and Mac The Knife, Vermillian, If Paradise and Prince Of Denmark will attempt to emulate Lyric Fantasy (1992), Risky (1993), Miss Stamper (1996) and last year's winner Presto Vento.

Kieren Fallon shrugged off a bout of flu to record a treble at Ayr yesterday on Kafuwain, Moulins De Mougins and Piano Star.