Tully East set for return to Cheltenham for BetVictor Gold Cup

Wed 1 Nov 2017

By Racinguk.com staff

Alan Fleming is looking forward to seeing his Cheltenham Festival hero Tully East return to Prestbury Park for the BetVictor Gold Cup on November 18.

The Barry Connell-owned seven-year-old claimed the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase in March, a race run over the same course and distance as this month's prestigious handicap.

Tully East disappointed on his final start of last season at the Punchestown Festival, but having blown away the cobwebs with a spin over hurdles a couple of weeks ago, he is firmly on course for another trip to the Cotswolds.

Fleming said: "The BetVictor Gold Cup is very much the aim for Tully East. He was a little rusty for his reappearance over hurdles at Punchestown earlier this month, but he finished off his race really good and we were very happy with him.

"He came home happy after that run and we will give him a good school over fences before going to Cheltenham.

"It was a fantastic win at Cheltenham last season. We were disappointed when he ran next time at Punchestown. I don't know exactly what happened that day - he either dropped his hind leg into a fence or jumped into a fence.

"The horse did well over the summer and came back in happy. He ran with plenty of life the other day."

Irish-trained horses have won the BetVictor Gold Cup five times, most recently thanks to Tranquil Sea in 2009.

Tully East is one of seven possible raiders this year, with the Willie Mullins-trained Ballycasey and Gordon Elliott's pair of A Toi Phil and Ball D'Arc also in contention.

A total of 45 entries have been received for the £160,000 contest, with Kylemore Lough and Romain De Senam the 10-1 joint-favourites with the race sponsors.

Kylemore Lough won the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in 2016 when trained by Kerry Lee, but has joined Harry Fry over the summer.

Fry said: "Kylemore Lough is very well and will head straight to the BetVictor Gold Cup, all being well. There are still two and a half weeks to go, but we are happy with his progress and looking forward to the race."

Romain De Senam has enjoyed a fine start to his second campaign over fences, winning handicap chases at Chepstow and Stratford in October.

The five-year-old features among nine contenders for Paul Nicholls, with Le Prezien, Politologue and San Benedeto also part of a strong Ditcheat squad.

Other leading hopes include Gold Present, one of three entries for champion trainer Nicky Henderson, Jamie Snowden's Double Treasure and the Malcolm Jefferson-trained Cloudy Dream.

Weights for the BetVictor Gold Cup, which has a maximum field of 20, are unveiled on Wednesday, November 8.

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