Richards hoping Looking Well can return to winning ways at Cheltenham

Former Gold Cup contender Coneygree adds touch of class to BetVictor Handicap Chase

 Mark Walsh riding Josies Orders (green) clear the last to win The Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham. Photograph:  Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Mark Walsh riding Josies Orders (green) clear the last to win The Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

Nicky Richards feels Looking Well is capable of running a big race if things go his way in the BetVictor.com Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The nine-year-old has not won since May 2016, but has run several good races in defeat, most notably when second to Ziga Boy in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster in January 2017.

And he may well have won the Edinburgh National at Musselburgh last winter, had he not swerved and lost his rider on the run to the final fence.

“He stays well. He was probably very unlucky not to collect at Musselburgh last year,” said the Greystoke handler. “Horse and jockey got their wires crossed and parted company.

“He’s been second in the old Great Yorkshire at Doncaster. I’d say if he got into a good rhythm, he’ll run a good race. He’ll enjoy the better ground.”

Singlefarmpayment is a dual winner at Cheltenham and a regular visitor, finishing fifth at the Festival and third at the April meeting on his last two races.

“He loves Cheltenham. He’s had a few near-misses there, but hopefully the cards will fall his way,” said trainer Tom George.

Adding a real touch of class is the Mark Bradstock-trained 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree, now an 11-year-old and having his first run since pulling up in last year’s Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.

Exciting recruit

He will be ridden for the first time by Sean Bowen, who said: “I schooled him this week and he jumped brilliant.

“He seems in great form and the Bradstocks are very happy, which is the main thing. I’ve always ridden a little bit for them and with Nico [de Boinville] injured I came in for the ride. I think they’ll have him fairly ready. I don’t think he’ll be far off, anyway.”

George gives his exciting recruit The Worlds End his second run over fences in the mallardjewellers.com Novices’ Chase.

The former classy staying hurdler put in an impressive round on his chasing debut at Chepstow recently.

“He had a good start to his chasing career at Chepstow. He’s going to have the nicer ground which he likes,” said George. “He’s got to step up again and we’ll see just how he goes round Cheltenham.”

Among his rivals is Minella Awards, who beat his sole rival Robin Waters by 69 lengths at Aintree earlier this month.

George is delighted to be getting Boyhood back in the course for the first time since being successful over this three miles in January when he lines up for the Regulatory Finance Solutions Listed Handicap Hurdle.

“He had a setback after he won there on New Year’s Day, but he’s back. He’s been in for a while and we’re looking forward to getting him back on track,” he said. He might need it a bit, but we’re looking for a nice run.”

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