Spirit goes for golden double

  • Last Updated: December 13 2013, 13:32 GMT

Johns Spirit will face 13 rivals as he bids to be only the fourth horse to complete the big pre-Christmas handicap chase double at Cheltenham on Saturday.

John's Spirit: Took the Paddy Power last month
John's Spirit: Took the Paddy Power last month

The six-year-old, trained by Jonjo O'Neill, goes for the Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup on the back of his victory in the Paddy Power-sponsored version last month.

Only three horses - Pegwell Bay (1988), Senor El Betrutti (1997) and Exotic Dancer (2006), also trained by O'Neill - have won both races in the same year.

Trying to prevent Johns Spirit from doing the double is Colour Squadron, who was only beaten three-quarters of a length in second place in the Paddy Power and is now 2lb better off at the weights.

Others from that race renewing rivalry are the fourth horse home, Attaglance, Champion Court, (who was seventh), Tap Night (eighth) and Easter Meteor, who fell at the penultimate fence when still holding every chance.

Tony McCoy has chosen to partner ante-post favourite Colour Squadron from the three choices presented by his boss, owner J P McManus, leaving Robert Thornton to ride Cantlow and Peter Buchanan on Tap Night.

Four horses were withdrawn at the 48-hour final declaration stage - the Irish-trained duo of Noble Prince and Home Farm, plus Kapga De Cerisy and Mail De Bievre.

Martin Keighley has left in top-weight Champion Court as a precaution in case he makes an early exit from today's Betfred Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.

"We left him in just in case. You never know - he might unseat at the first," said Keighley.

Sky Bet make Colour Squadron and Johns Spirit their 5/1 joint-favourites, with Grandioso next on the list at 11/2.


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amends quote in second par Martin Keighley has left in top-weight Champion Court as a precaution in case he makes an early exit from today's Betfred Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.

"We left him in just in case. You never know what might happen," said Keighley.

Old adversaries Colour Squadron and Johns Spirit were 5-1 joint-favourites with Paddy Power following the final declaration stage.

Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup - Paddy Power bet: 5-1 Colour Squadron, Johns Spirit, 6-1 Grandioso, 8-1 Attaglance, 10-1 Salut Flo, Cantlow, 12-1 Easter Meteor, Double Ross, Champion Court, 16-1 bar.