Nicky Henderson: will not be able to run Kotkikova at Cheltenham
By David Baxter 12:32PM 15 FEB 2017
THE sense of anticipation surrounding next month’s Cheltenham Festival moved up another notch following the latest round of forfeits for the six non-novice championship races at the meeting.
Colin Tizzard still holds the nap hand for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with Thistlecrack, Native River, Theatre Guide and Cue Card, though he reduced his challenge by one as French recruit Alary was scratched on Wednesday.
Cue Card, who was also a possible for the Ryanair, has been taken out of that race, leaving the Gold Cup as his sole target.
One horse who will not be in the Gold Cup is Kotkikova, who will miss the festival entirely following an injury setback.
The mare, who joined Nicky Henderson from France this season, also had entries for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, for which she was as short as 10-1, and Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle.
Henderson told the Racing Post on Wednesday: “She’s done a splint and we have to leave her alone for a bit. I’m not sure how long she’ll be off but we have to deal with it and it’s come at the wrong time.
“She loves soft ground and the plan was to go hurdling this year and then chasing next, but she needs a bit of time out so we’ll re-evaluate when we have her back and make a plan then.”
A total of 29 remain entered for the Gold Cup, with Sizing John, Champagne West, Outlander and Don Poli also featuring.
Last season’s Triumph Hurdle winner Ivanovich Gorbatov is likely to go down the handicaps route this time around, as he was taken out of the Champion Hurdle and Stayers’ Hurdle.
Ivanovich Gorbatov (right): beat Apple’s Jade in last year’s Triumph
PICTURE:Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Trainer Joseph O’Brien said: “We took him out of the Champion Hurdle and the Stayers’ Hurdle but there are still plenty of options for him.
“He’s absolutely fine and he will be entered in all of the handicaps. I think that’s the route we will have to go down with him at Cheltenham.”
Other big-race entries
Irish Gold Cup winner Sizing John is another who could run, with the Ryanair Chase his other option after he was removed from the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase entries.
Douvan heads the field of 20 for the race, with Un De Sceaux and Vroum Vroum Mag also entered. The latter’s festival target is yet to be decided, and she is still a possibility for all six races.
Un De Sceaux is considered likely to run in the Ryanair, and is one of 34 entries.
For the Champion Hurdle 19 remain, with Buveur D’Air, Brain Power and Petit Mouchoir all still engaged.
Unowhatimeanharry heads the 36 remaining contenders for the stayers’ hurdle, while Willie Mullins has seven of the 39 Mare’s Hurdle possibles, a race he has won for the last eight seasons.