Racing: Lacdoudal shapes up for the Cup

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The Independent Online

Philip Hobbs's Lacdoudal put himself in line for next Saturday's Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup at Cheltenham when taking the Future Stars Chase at Sandown yesterday.

Sixth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last time out, the slower pace here over three miles seemed to suit Lacdoudal much better.

"If the top weights stay in at Cheltenham then he has only 10st 9lb so it would be a possibility," Roger Skan, the gelding's owner, said.

Totesport cut Lacdoudal for Cheltenham to 8-1 from 12-1, while William Hill and Paddy Power offer 10-1. Our Vic is Hills' 4-1 favourite.

Paul Nicholls claimed the training honours with a double as Spidam and Neptune Collonges sealed bloodless victories in the rain-softened conditions. The form of the Nicholls team has picked up markedly in recent weeks and Spidam maintained the momentum when scoring at 6-4 in the juvenile novices' hurdle.

"A lot of his rivals were ex-Flat horses and I think we just handled the conditions better," said Nicholls.

Bookmakers issued a 33-1 quote about the gelding for next March's Triumph Hurdle, but Nicholls suggested that contest was unlikely to be on the agenda.

"He's a chaser through and through and there's no fancy plans for him over hurdles," he said. "He's the sort of horse you would want to look after with an eye to the future."

Nicholls always seems to take a long-term view when he has a winner these days and he was not about to buck the trend after Neptune Collonges took the Winter Novices' Hurdle.

"He obviously wants soft ground and Ruby [Walsh] said that as soon as he got off him at Cheltenham last time," said Nicholls. "Cheltenham can be a bit of a funny track - it's a lot quicker than people think and everything happened too quickly for him there. I knew you'd see the real horse today because he loves this ground. He's a three-mile chaser with a future."