Coome Hill uninjured

 

GOLD CUP fourth favourite Coome Hill was yesterday reported none the worse for his fall at Sandown on Saturday. Walter Dennis now faces a choice of three possible races later this month at which to aim the Hennessy winner, who galloped loose after he crashed out at the second fence when favourite for the Agfa Diamond Chase.

But he admitted he would not be concerned if the gelding, who was having his first outing since November, went to Cheltenham without another race.

"I wouldn't really be worried if he didn't have another run," the Bude permit holder said. "I don't want to give him another run just for the sake of it as things can often go wrong.

"We were lucky as we did get three early runs into him this season look at poor Jim Old who hasn't been able to run Collier Bay at all.

"I led Coome Hill out this morning for a pick of grass and he is all right. There are no ill effects from his fall as far as I can see, though we will have to give him a day or two to get over his long journey.

"There are three races we'll have to look at for him. There is the Greenalls at Haydock, which is a bit of a slog, the Racing Post Chase at Kempton and The John Bull Chase at Wincanton.

"It is difficult to say which is favourite at this stage as it all depends on the ground. The dry spell has been a bit of a pain and I have never known Sandown so firm at this time of year."

Coome Hill was falling for the first time since joining Dennis, for whom he showed useful form in point to points before switching to steeplechasing.

"He just seemed to have a mental block and I wouldn't blame Jamie Osborne," Dennis said.

"It was early on in the race and they hadn't settled down. He couldn't decide whether to go for a long or a short one and he just didn't get up and scrubbed through the top of the fence. It was unfortunate but it's all in the game.

Avro Anson, Go Ballistic and Major Summit also came to grief in the £30,000 added limited handicap, leaving Dextra Dove to account for only other finisher Northern Hide.

The winner will be aimed at the Martell Grand National, for which he is quoted at 25 to 1 by William Hill who make Coome Hill one of three 14 to 1 cofavourites.

Meanwhile, dry weather could scupper Martin Pipe's plans to run three of his Cheltenham Festival hopes this week, the trainer warned yesterday.

The seven time champion trainer has entered Gold Cup possibles Challenger du Luc and Cyborgo (also in the Royal Sun Alliance Chase) at Wincanton on Thursday in the Racing In Wessex Chase and Bet with The Tote Novices' Chase respectively.

And he has put Elite Racing Club Triumph Hurdle third favourite White Sea in Friday's Stroud Green Hurdle at Newbury.

But he stressed: "I am worried about the ground at Wincanton as we are waiting for raid and ground is a worry for White Sea too.

Stayers' Hurdle winner Cyborgo was the horse at the centre of the dispute which led Tony McCoy to leave Paul Nicholls when the champion jockey chose to ride him to victory at Newton Abbot last month.

McCoy is currently sidelined by injury but Pipe said: "I am not worried about a jockey for him, that is looking too far ahead."

Murphy's Gold Cup winner Challenger du Luc was a well beaten sixth at Cheltenham last month on his latest start.

. Tommy Stack's One Man Band and Michael Hourigan's Sentosa Star landed an 35 1/2 to 1 double on the snow frozen lake of St Moritz yesterday. Both were ridden by Paul Hourigan.

Sentosa Star, whose main aim is the Grosser Preis at the same venue on February 16th, took the £5,000 Christoffel Bau Trophy over nine furlongs. Whereas One Man Band improved on his third two years ago in the Grand Prix Badrutt's Palace Hotel over five and a half furlongs.