14:10 Cheltenham Wed 14 March 2018
Last Year's Winner
|T: N J HendersonJ: Nico de Boinville|
Presenting Percy (5/2), Monalee (10/3), Black Corton (5/1), Al Boum Photo (8/1), Elegant Escape (9/1), Ballyoptic (9/1), Dounikos (12/1), Bonbon Au Miel (33/1), Allysson Monterg (50/1), Full Irish (100/1)
- Presenting Percy
- Al Boum Photo
WHAT THE TRAINERS SAY
Henry de Bromhead - Monalee: "He is in good form and he seems well. It was a great run at Leopardstown and I'm happy. I think he is a three-mile horse. I know a lot of people think he should be going for the JLT. It was two-mile-five last time and he needed that last furlong. If I blocked everyone else apart from the trainer, jockey and owner, there would hardly be a discussion.
"For me he is a three-mile horse. If it was two-five maybe you would start considering it, but it is 20 yards short of two miles and four furlongs. Death Duty beat him out of sight over two and a half over hurdles. It was two-five at Leopardstown on soft ground and he needed every inch of it, I thought.
"I don't think there is any penalty kick and there are some very good horses in it, like Invitation Only and Terrefort. We are happy and we think he is a three-mile horse. We hope we have made the right decision, but all will be revealed. He has won over three miles on bottomless ground at Clonmel and he loved it. I always thought he was more dependent on soft ground than good ground, but he seems to handle anything."
Owner Philip Reynolds - Presenting Percy: "He gave us a super day last year. It was following on from Mall Dini the year before and I never thought lightning would strike twice, but it was fantastic. He's a wonderful horse and he's been a great servant. He's run 15 times for us, winning eight and being placed three or four times. It's very hard to get a horse as special as that. We're very lucky to have him.
"I think opinion is probably split on whether his last run was a good run or a bad run, given we were getting weight from Our Duke, but I think people forget Our Duke won an Irish National by 14 lengths. To me it was a good run - I think he ran to his mark. I would have preferred it if he'd won on the day, but I think it was a fantastic performance, particularly for a novice.
"I don't think it was an overly hard race and he's absolutely flying since. He's in great, great form. I think Monalee is a huge danger to us. Outside that, I'd pick Elegant Escape as our main danger."
Joe Tizzard - Elegant Escape: "I love the way the ground is looking - he's an out-and-out galloper. His Newbury form with Black Corton is as good as there is in this country and there is not masses between the Irish horses. He's a horse that's progressing all the time and he had a lovely confidence-booster at Exeter last time."
Paul Nicholls - Black Corton: "What I like about him is that as you saw at Ascot, he jumped the last and was then gone - he took a bit of pulling up. He is really strong at the back-end of his races and that hill will suit him."
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