There are 38 entries for the 2009 Cheltenham Gold Cup announced today with trainer Paul Nicholls having Kauto Star and Denman, along with last years third home, dual Grade One scorer Neptune Collognes, 2006 RSA Chase winner Star De Mohaison and the unexposed Big Bucks among his eight entries as he bids for a fourth Cheltenham Gold Cup.
After gaining a deserved first Grade One victory in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown in December, Exotic Dancer may bid for victory in a race in which he has finished second and fifth in the past two seasons, while other Grade One winners Air Force One, The Listener and Snoopy Loopy could also try to prevent another year of Nicholls domination.
David Pipe has given an entry to last seasons Ryanair Chase winner Our Vic, who followed up his Cheltenham victory with a nose defeat of Kauto Star in a Grade Two contest at Aintree in April. The master of Pond House also has among his six entries the exciting Or Noir de Somoza, a winner at the highest level over both fences and hurdles in his native France.
Several top second-season chasers have also been entered, headed by Tidal Bay, successful in last seasons The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase, and 2008 RSA Chase victor Albertas Run, who was second to Kauto Star in the King George VI Chase. Barbers Shop could be a first runner in the totesport Gold Cup for The Queen and the seven-year-old may re-oppose his Paddy Power Gold Cup conqueror Imperial Commander.
The strong Irish challenge of eight includes 2006 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup hero War Of Attrition, last years Grand National third Snowy Morning, from the yard of Willie Mullins and Notre Pere, this seasons Welsh Grand National winner from the stable of Jim Dreaper who was successful with Ten Up back in 1975.