One of the Irish winners at the Cheltenham Festival returns in the Boylesports Gold Cup next week. Trainer Tom Taaffe saddled Finger Onthe Pulse to victory in the Listed Jewson Novices Handicap Chase over half a furlong shorter at The Festival in March and is keen to let the seven-year-old take his chance.
Finger Onthe Pulse, a 12/1 shot with Boylesports, endured a wasted trip to Newcastle last weekend when icy conditions forced the cancellation of the Rehearsal Chase. The gelding had previously chased home Noland in the Grade Three Kilultagh Properties Ltd Chase at Down Royal on November 1, having scored on his seasonal debut in the Grade Three PricewaterhouseCoopers Chase at Limerick the previous month.
Taaffe revealed today: "Finger Onthe Pulse will go to Cheltenham for the Boylesports.com Gold Cup. He will do his usual bits of work here tomorrow (Friday) and into next week. Im very happy with him since he came back from his abortive trip to Newcastle. He has been extremely well since then so if I can get him to Cheltenham in the same form, I will be happy.
"He won the Jewson Novices Handicap Chase in March and I do not think that the extra half-furlong will pose a problem - I was prepared to run him over three miles at Newcastle the other day, so I have no worries about that."
Taaffe had been considering a tilt at the Grade One King George VI Chase on Boxing Day but Finger Onthe Pulse is unlikely to go to Kempton now that the trainer has chosen the Cheltenham route.
He continued: "If he had run last weekend, that would have given me an extra week to make up my mind about the King George or the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. Now that we are getting closer, if everything goes to plan and he runs at Cheltenham, I think we would knock both those options on the head. It is a bit much to ask of him to travel back to England again on Boxing Day and I would not like to ask him to run in Ireland either just two weeks after going to Cheltenham."
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Imperial Commander is the 3/1 market leader with Boylesports following his victory in the Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup over half a furlong shorter at The Open last month.
The Jonjo ONeill-trained Exotic Dancer, successful in the 2006 Boylesports.com Gold Cup, currently heads the weights on 11st 12lb and is a 20/1 chance with the sponsor.