Although victory in the pounds 100,000 Whitbread would have sealed the trainers' championship for Paul Nicholls, Double Thriller's trainer, he has decided to rest his charge, a first-fence faller in the National, with a view to saving him for the major prizes next season.
"The likelihood is that the ground at Sandown will be on the fast side for Double Thriller," Nicholls said. "His owner, Reg Wilkins, and I think he's done enough this term."
Nicholls will instead be represented in the Sandown showpiece by Court Melody and, possibly, Colonel In Chief who has yet to run for the stable.
Nicholls enters the last six weeks of the jumps season with a pounds 96,000 lead over the reigning champion, Martin Pipe, in the race for the prize money-determined trainers' title. Four winners on Saturday, headed by Fadalko in the Scottish Champion Hurdle, took his 1998/99 earnings to pounds 1,144,906. Potentate's second to Fadalko was the best effort by Pipe's six runners, leaving him on pounds 1,048,688.
Meanwhile, Tommy Carberry confirmed that Bobbyjo is on course for Saturday's race. "He has taken the race at Aintree very well," the trainer said.
Saturday's Scottish Grand National winner, Young Kenny, is to be aimed at he Aintree original next year. Peter Beaumont, his trainer, said yesterday: "I hope he has everything you need for the National as he jumps well, stays well and copes with big fields. He will work gently towards that but he has got to have cut in the ground."
n France's Jim And Tonic won the pounds 240,000 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin in Hong Kong yesterday. Gerald Mosse on the Francois Doumen-trained four-year-old beat the locals Indigenous and John Cruyff.
Whitbread Gold Cup (Sandown, Saturday): Coral: 5-1 Bobbyjo (from 6-1), 6-1 Call It A Day (from 8-1), 8-1 Baronet, 10-1 Boss Doyle, 12-1 Bettys Boy, 14-1 Fine Thyne, Papillon, 16-1 Glebe Lad, Callisoe Bay, Jathib, Random Harvest, Step On Eyre, 20-1 othersReuse content