Course specialist Sam Winner targets fifth Cheltenham victory at this year’s Festival

Paul Nicholls trains Sam Winner.

Paul Nicholls trains Sam Winner.

By Simon Jackson.

Cheltenham specialist Sam Winner bids to extend his great record at Prestbury Park when he contests the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 13.

The Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year old has won six and placed eight times in 26 starts with four of the six victories coming at Cheltenham.

The Gloucester racetrack was the scene of his comeback race in November where he overcame a mistake at the last fence to land the Grade 3 Murphy Group Handicap Chase.

Sam Winner maintained his good start to the campaign at Aintree three weeks later when winning the Listed Betfred “Racing’s Biggest Supporter” Chase.

He was third in the Grade 1 Lexus Chase at Leopardstown at his next start in late December, when finishing three and a half lengths adrift of leading Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Road To Riches.

Connections have revealed that Sam Winner, a 33-1 shot for the feature race of the four day Festival, will now go straight to Cheltenham.

“He’s really very well and we’re very happy with him,” owner Angela Yeoman told At The Races.

“He’s had a little rest during the winter and is ready to go again.

“He seems to have grown up, which has been really pleasing to watch this season.

“He will not run before Cheltenham but I’ve absolutely no idea who will ride him in the Gold Cup. That’s for Paul to work out.

“It has surprised me how good he has been in the wet, but I really think the deciding point [in the Gold Cup] will be the Cheltenham hill.”

Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.