It looks like the Tote got it right. After See More Business won the Pillar Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday, while other leading bookmakers were offering odds of up to 7-1 about See More Business for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Tote went 7-2. The other firms are slowly moving into line. William Hill yesterday cut See More Business from 6-1 to 9-2 for the Gold Cup and Coral now offer a top-priced 5-1. That may not last long.
Punters will have more idea what See More Business is up against on Sunday when Ireland's leading Gold Cup hopes, Dorans Pride and Imperial Call, will face a small field in the Hennessy Gold Cup over three miles at Leopardstown. The pair were among only eight acceptors yesterday for the race. Go Ballistic and Hermes Harvest are the only British entries.
Dorans Pride is a top-priced 8-1 for the Gold Cup with William Hill, while Imperial Call, who won the Hennessy in 1996 en route to victory in the Gold Cup, is generally available at the same price.
Martin Pipe trains six of yesterday's 23 confirmed entries for the Tote Bookmakers Sandown Handicap Hurdle on Saturday. Pipe's Allegation heads the weights on 11st 10lb. Daraydan, Big Strand - who merits attention after his eyecatching run at Kempton last time - Danjing, Runaway Pete and Harbour Island are Pipe's other entries.
Mistinguett, who easily beat some out-of-form rivals in last Saturday's Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham, will carry a 6lb penalty for her 15-length success over Bimsey, taking her up to joint top weight.
The six-year-old mare's trainer, Nigel Twiston Davies, reports her "fine" and on course for Sandown. He said: "She was very impressive on Saturday and she's fine after the race so we are heading for Sandown. She's not very big but she's carried big weights before and it hasn't bothered her."
Jimmy FitzGerald, who won the race with Special Vintage (1989) and Trainglot (1993 and 1996), will saddle Whip Hand. The trainer's son, Tim, said: "Whip Hand seems OK and is an intended runner."
Splendid Thyne, winner of his last three starts, is also a likely starter. He will renew rivalry with Jenny Pitman's Princeful, beaten two and a half lengths by Terry Casey's charge last time but 2lb better off at Sandown.
Champion Hurdle possibles Grey Shot and Wahiba Sands are among the entry revealed yesterday for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Festival. The pair have been given the alternative option of running in the first race at the Festival by trainers Ian Balding and John Dunlop.
Pipe has also entered the 1996 Italian Derby winner Bahamian Knight in the Supreme Novices', in advance of his hurdling debut at Lingfield this Friday. The Irish entry for the Supreme includes Irish Champion Hurdle second His Song.
Pipe has entered 17 for the Triumph Hurdle, headed by Rainwatch, the Finale Junior Hurdle winner.
lYesterday's meeting at Plumpton was abandoned because of frost.
l Punters will be relieved to hear that the Tote has increased its maximum pay-out to pounds 500,000 from pounds 250,000.