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Hope for Divers at Cheltenham if rain stays away
DIVERS can make a big splash in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday reckons trainer Ferdy Murphy – but only if the ground is in his favour.
The West Witton handler is hoping the rain stays away from Prestbury Park to give the eight-year-old, who won the Listed Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Chase at the Festival in 2011, the best chance in a sparking renewal of the Grade 3 £160,000 contest.
Grands Crus, Poquelin, Al Ferof, Aerial and Quantitativeeasing were among the 22 entries at the five-day declaration stage for the race, held over an extended two-and-a-half miles and considered the curtain raiser to the National Hunt season.
Divers came home fourth in the Byrne Group Plate at The Festival in March and was last seen finishing down the field in the BetVictor.com Handicap Chase at The Showcase at Cheltenham on October 20.
Murphy said he has come for that run and, should the ground stay right, is expecting big things from his 16-1 shot.
“Divers definitely runs in the Paddy Power Gold Cup providing we don’t get monsoon-type rain,” he said. “He has come out of his race at The Showcase in really good form. He always takes a run to come to life and we are really happy with him.
“He ran very well when he finished third in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last season but the rain came on the Friday night and that didn’t help. He loves good ground and the better the ground, the better his chance.
“The Paddy Power Gold Cup looks like it is going to be a fantastic race this year. There are a lot of very good horses and it looks very competitive.
“Providing the ground stays right for Divers, I think he will run an extremely good race. Timmy Murphy rides – his record around Cheltenham speaks for itself – and I think he’ll really suit the horse.”
Grands Crus, who won the Grade 1 Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton last season, is bidding to give trainer David Pipe his second Paddy Power Gold Cup after Great Endeavour’s seven-length victory last year and heads the market at 9-4.
Next best in the market is one of the stories of last season in Hunt Ball, who won seven of his nine races including the Listed Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase at The Festival.
Tim Easterby, meanwhile, has proved to be five-star on the Yorkshire tracks this season.
The Great Habton saddler won the top Flat trainer title on the county’s nine tracks for the fifth time – his 48 winners over the course of the campaign proving to be two more than Malton trainer Richard Fahey. Nawton’s David O’Meara was third with 40.
Danny Tudhope was the top Flat jockey, winning the title for the first time after recording 43 winners. He was nine ahead of his nearest challenger Robert Winston, with Paul Mulrennan third with 29 winners.
The trophies will be presented at the ‘Go Racing in Yorkshire’ Annual Awards Lunch on November 20.