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Racing: Confidence restored as Imperial Call impresses

After a disappointing workout at Clonmel last week, Imperial Call was back on a racecourse yesterday and his attempt at completing successive victories in the Cheltenham Gold Cup was back on track too.

The horse's connections declared themselves delighted after Ireland's leading chaser, trained by Fergie Sutherland, tuned up at Tralee racecourse with his big-race jockey, Conor O'Dwyer, in the saddle.

Ann Sutherland, the trainer's wife, said: "He went very well and both trainer and jockey are delighted. We think we've got him right now and are quietly confident that he can do it again. We would prefer soft ground but are unlikely to get it and it wouldn't be a problem if it was similar to last year."

O'Dwyer said: "The ground was desperate but I was very happy with him today. He looked and felt a different horse from Clonmel. I'm really looking forward to next week now."

Dorans Pride was also due to work at the track, but his trainer, Michael Hourigan, scrapped plans when he saw the state of the ground.

William Hill were impressed by Imperial Call to cut him to 9-2 clear favourite from 11-2. Ladbrokes, however, leave him unchanged at 5-1 and report support for Cyborgo, the mount of Charlie Swan. They have cut him to 16-1 (from 20-1).

Cheltenham Gold Cup (13 March) Tote: 9-2 Imperial Call, 5-1 Coome Hill, 11-2 Dorans Pride, 6-1 Danoli, 11-1 Dublin Flyer, One Man & The Grey Monk, 12-1 others; Ladbrokes: 5-1 Imperial Call, Dorans Pride & Coome Hill, 6-1 Danoli, 8-1 Dublin Flyer, 10-1 One Man & The Grey Monk, 14-1 others; William Hill: 9-2 Imperial Call, 11-2 Coome Hill, 13-2 Dorans Pride, 7- 1 Danoli, 10-1 Dublin Flyer, One Man & The Grey Monk, 12-1 others; Coral: 5-1 Coome Hill & Imperial Call, 11-2 Danoli, 6-1 Dorans Pride, 7-1 Dublin Flyer, 8-1 One Man, 10-1 The Grey Monk, 12-1 others.