Racing: Weights rise daunting for Fondmort in Tripleprint

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The Independent Online

Fondmort, the winner of last year's Tripleprint Gold Cup, may attempt to become the first horse to win the Cheltenham feature for a second time. Nicky Henderson's chaser was among 22 horses confirmed yesterday for Saturday's £100,000 contest.

Fondmort, the winner of last year's Tripleprint Gold Cup, may attempt to become the first horse to win the Cheltenham feature for a second time. Nicky Henderson's chaser was among 22 horses confirmed yesterday for Saturday's £100,000 contest.

The seven-year-old beat Foly Pleasant - who is also among the entries - by six lengths in 2002 and again showed his liking for Prestbury Park when running out an impressive winner of last month's Paddy Power Gold Cup.

He will attempt to join Pegwell Bay (1988) and Senor El Betrutti (1997) as the only horses to have completed the Cheltenham "autumn double" in the same season. Fondmort carried 10st 5lb to victory 12 months ago, but has 11st 11lb this time and has drifted out to 6-1 from 5-1 with William Hill.

However, a spokesman for the trainer reported yesterday afternoon that Fondmort was on course for the race .

The Grade Three contest is normally run on the New course, but the entire two-day meeting has been switched to the Old course, where underfoot conditions are better.

Top-weight on 11st 12lb is the Martin Pipe-trained Seebald. Pipe has also left in Cyfor Malta and It Takes Time. Both ran in the Paddy Power, with the former finishing unplaced and the latter falling.

Michael Chapman reports Ei Ei, who was third in the Paddy Power, to be on course for the race. He said: "He's fine, 100 per cent. He had a week's holiday after the Paddy Power but he's back to himself now."

Henry Daly could be double-handed with the Paddy Power fourth, Young Spartacus, and Hand Inn Hand, who is 7-2 favourite with Hills following a pleasing seasonal debut over hurdles at Aintree last month.

Redemption, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, was pulled up in the Paddy Power when his saddle slipped and he has since returned to winning form in style at Newbury.

An interesting contender would be Henderson's Iris Royal, winner of the First National Gold Cup at Ascot last month. "At the moment the intention is that we will probably run. He has plenty of options and it's just one race that we are looking at," said Barry Simpson, racing manager to the owner, Sir Robert Ogden.

Adamant Approach is said to be on target for the Tripleprint by the Irish trainer Willie Mullins, with Ruby Walsh booked for the ride. There are two other Irish possibles - Michael O'Brien's Kadoun and Risk Accessor, from Christy Roche's stable.

Rooster Booster heads 12 entries for the £75,000-added Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday. The Champion Hurdle hero is likely to face strong opposition in his first race since being beaten by the Sacundai at Aintree in April. One of those expected to take on the Philip Hobbs-trained grey is the Irish-trained Davenport Milenium.

Mullins, Davenport Milenium's trainer, has booked Walsh for the ride on the seven-year-old, who made a comeback from 11 months on the sidelines when fourth to Solerina at Fairyhouse recently. Davenport Milenium is also in the Tara Hurdle at Navan on Sunday, but Mullins has indicated that Cheltenham is the first preference.

Spirit Leader may attempt to give another Irish trainer, Jessica Harrington, a second successive triumph in Britain following Moscow Flyer's win in the Tingle Creek Trophy at Sandown last Saturday.

Jonjo O'Neill has put in his Australian import Specular as well as Hasty Prince. Other interesting entries include the Paul Nicholls-trained Rigmarole, and Hughie Morrison's Tom Paddington.

* Sandown's April Gold Cup meeting, which includes the former Whitbread Gold Cup, has a new sponsor. The Betfred Gold Cup does not have quite the same ring to it, but the Esher Park track are none the less grateful. The Manchester-based firm - the telephone and internet betting arm of Fred Done bookmakers - are to back 10 races at the two-day fixture in a three-year deal, including the £150,000 main feature, made famous as the Whitbread and latterly known as the attheraces Gold Cup.

* Richard Dunwoody and Desert Orchid, who enjoyed two victories together in the King George VI Chase, are to be reunited at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. Dunwoody will gallop the 24-year-old up the home straight in front of the stands.

Tripleprint Gold Cup (Cheltenham, Saturday): William Hill ante-post odds: 7-2 Hand Inn Hand, 6-1 Fondmort (from 5-1), 7-1 Iris Royal, Risk Accessor, 10-1 Redemption, Telemoss (from 12-1), 11-1 It Takes Time (from 9-1), 12-1 Kadoun (from 11-1), Young Spartacus, 14-1 Cameron Bridge, 16-1 Ballinclay King, Cyfor Malta, Foly Pleasant, 20-1 Master Tern, Seebald, 25-1 Adamant Approach, Armaturk, Indian Scout, Royal Auclair, 33-1 Banker Count, Ei Ei, Eskleybrook.