Pandorama back in reckoning for Gold Cup

In the fortnight still dividing jump racing professionals from their defining challenge, all they expect is for things to go wrong. For punters, equally, fresh positives for the Cheltenham Festival will be few and largely inconsequential. It would be wrong, however, to treat absolutely every racecourse gallop as stage-managed, every pronouncement of optimism as bland or meaningless. And Noel Meade, for one, surely deserves to be taken at his word, after working Pandorama at Leopardstown yesterday morning.

Here is a horse whose emergence as Ireland's best Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup hope, at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting, had been promptly followed by another of the depressing setbacks that have so tormented his trainer at Cheltenham over the years. A month ago, Meade was rating Pandorama only "50-50" to make it to the Gold Cup. But his verdict yesterday was unequivocal.

"Everything went perfect," Meade said. "He worked great. I was delighted with him, absolutely thrilled. He went almost two miles, with six others, Realt Dubh as well – and I was very happy with both of them. I might give Pandorama a school over fences at some stage this week, at home, and then it's all systems go."

Meade, who confirmed the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy will "almost certainly" be the option favoured for Realt Dubh, has long set the caveat that Pandorama will need yielding conditions. In principle, however, he represents another good reason – with Long Run and Diamond Harry – why the three previous winners converging on the race must look to their laurels. More by ill luck than good judgement, Pandorama will arrive as a fresh horse and odds of 20-1 look generous.

As things stand, the most accomplished steeplechaser in Ireland remains Big Zeb and he, too, was among those discreetly taken to Leopardstown yesterday – most trainers having decided that working Cheltenham horses the previous evening, after racing, had in recent years become too public and stressful a ritual. Barry Geraghty schooled the Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, a much more proficient jumper nowadays, over six fences. Colm Murphy, his trainer, pronounced himself well satisfied, and likewise with Raise The Beat, who did a piece of work. Having impressed on faster going at Naas in November, Raise The Beat was put away for the winter and brought back to the boil for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

Another that may repay fresh consideration at Cheltenham is Champion Court, who impressed over the course in November but finished last on his return there in January. That performance was among several that told Martin Keighley that his stable was under a cloud, and the two runners he sent on a 400-mile round trip to Catterick yesterday were his first in four weeks. It was with corresponding relief, then, that he watched Total Submission see out his race so well for third, and Wolf Moon outclass his rivals for the novice chase.

"We gave them a really good break," Keighley said. "They walked for a week, trotted the second week, and we turned them out every day. We gradually built them back up, and they seem in great form now. That proved it, today, though I was a bit nervous coming here. Wolf Moon wants really good ground and Warren [Marston] said he wasn't that happy. There's definitely a nice prize in him this spring – he could be nicely handicapped."

Keighley, who trains just down the road from Cheltenham, added that Champion Court had worked "delightfully" the other day. He can be backed at 16-1 for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.

Turf Account

* Chris McGrath's Nap

Hierarch (3.45 Lingfield)

Patently unreliable type but definitely has more ability than his rating and may not fold quite so meekly now that he is tried in a tongue-tie.



* Next best

York Glory (4.55 Lingfield)

Well backed for his debut and should be sharper today.



* One to watch

Just The Job (Neil Mulholland) seemed to be committed too soon at Fontwell on Sunday, collared in the final strides.



* Where the money's going

Zaidpour is 10-1 from 12-1 with Totesport for the Stan James Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Festival.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Sport
David Silva strokes home his and City's second goal
football
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas