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Slim Pickings in Irish Cheltenham Gold Cup Entries

Wednesday 7th January 2009

This year�s entry of 38 for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup includes the three previous winners of chasing�s Blue Riband. The 2009 renewal takes place on Friday, March 13 and is worth a record �475,000. The last two renewals of the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup have gone the way of champion trainer Paul Nicholls with Kauto Star prevailing in 2007 and Denman coming out on top last year, getting the better of Kauto Star by seven lengths. The duo are set for a rematch this season, with Kauto Star fresh from collecting his third King George VI Chase at Kempton last month and Denman set to make his seasonal reappearance in the AON Chase at Newbury on February 7.

There have been 20 Irish-trained winners of the extended three and a quarter mile contest, most recently War Of Attrition in 2006. The Mouse Morris-trained 10-year-old is one eight entries trained in Ireland this time around and could be joined by Finger Onthe Pulse, who represents the same combination of owner Conor Clarkson and trainer Tom Taaffe who were successful with Kicking King in 2005. He is already a Festival winner, having taken the Jewson Novices� Handicap Chase in 2008. Taaffe has also entered Cane Brake, fifth behind Kauto Star in 2007, and Slim Pickings, who has twice been placed in the Grand National. Other Irish-trained contenders are recent Welsh Grand National hero Notre Pere, who could attempt to give trainer Jim Dreaper a second success in the race 34 years after the victory of Ten Up, Snowy Morning, who finished second to Denman in the 2007 RSA Chase, Mister Top Notch and Thyne Again, who finished fourth in The Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at The Festival last year.

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