No decision yet on Last Instalment for Gold Cup
Drying conditions at Cheltenham won’t favour Philip Fenton’s Hennessy Gold Cup winner
Last Instalment’s trainer Philip Fenton. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Last Instalment and First Lieutenant will both be declared for Friday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, according to Gigginstown House Stud’s racing manager Eddie O’Leary.
First Lieutenant was among the leading contenders for the Ryanair Chase on Thursday, having chased home Cue Card in the race 12 months ago, but was not among the declarations.
Doubts remain over the participation of Hennessy Gold Cup hero Last Instalment in Friday’s blue riband due to the drying conditions at Prestbury Park, but O’Leary insists it is not out of the question both horses will line up, if the ground is suitable.
O’Leary said: “We have decided to run Rathlin in the Ryanair and both First Lieutenant and Last Instalment will be declared for the Gold Cup.
“No decision has been made (on whether Last Instalment) will run.
“We could run both horses if the ground is suitable, but at the moment, it looks as though the ground would favour First Lieutenant.
“We’ll just have to see what happens.”
Big Buck’s and Annie Power, meanwhile, feature among a field of 12 declared for Thursday’s World Hurdle as the former bids to regain his stayers’ crown.
The Paul Nicholls-trained 11-year-old chalked up four successive World Hurdles from 2009 to 2012 as he swept to 18 consecutive victories over the smaller obstacles.
However, he was forced to miss last year’s race through injury and only returned to action in January, when he was third behind Knockara Beau in the Cleeve Hurdle on this course.
He showed the fire was still there and is expected to come on for the run in the hands of Sam Twiston-Davies, who rode him for the first time in that contest.
Ruby Walsh, who guided Big Buck’s to many of his victories, partners Willie Mullins’ undefeated mare Annie Power.
Mullins has also left in Quevega, who runs in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle today, and the trainer said: “It’s just a precaution in case anything untoward happens this afternoon.”
Gordon Elliott’s Mala Beach and Rule The World, from the Mouse Morris stable, were the other Irish horses declared at the 48-hour stage.