Steve Woodman's gelding, the visitors' most fancied runner at 10-1, returned from morning work yesterday with his nose running almost as fast as his legs had been on the gallops. 'We took him down to Guy Harwood's at Pulborough but when we got him back we found he had a snotty nose,' Woodman said.
Bitofabanter, who will now be ridden by Francis Woods, was subsequently cut to 9-2 favourite by the sponsors. If the rains stay away his main rival is likely to be Vintage Crop, who is trained by Dermot Weld.
'I want to run but if I find the ground is too soft on Saturday he won't,' Weld said. 'It will be his first run for over a year and since he has to carry 12 stone against 29 opponents you want everything to be in his favour. But he has got a lot to learn about jumping and there is no substitute for racecourse experience.'
Cool Ground, who is at the other end of the learning curve, has earned the nod of Adrian Maguire in Saturday's Anthony Mildmay Peter Cazalet Chase at Sandown. The Irishman rides the Gold Cup winner in preference to Sibton Abbey, who won the Hennessy Gold Cup in November. The weekend's duel between Katabatic and Waterloo Boy in Haydock's Newton Chase is off because the latter has been pulled out.Reuse content