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The £160,000 BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday has been a long-time plan for joint-favourite Slate House connections revealed this week.
The Colin Tizzard-trained second-season novice chaser heads the betting at 5-1 alongside Siruh Du Lac for the Grade 3, two miles and four furlong contest; the feature race of the three-day November meeting at Cheltenham this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Slate House has surged to the top of the betting for the BetVictor Gold Cup since scoring by 11 lengths in a novices’ chase over course and distance on his seasonal debut on October 26.
The victory was Slate House’s third at Cheltenham and his first since capturing the Grade 2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at The November Meeting in 2017.
Tizzard’s charge ran four times over fences last term without success but connections admitted that Saturday’s feature race has been a long-term plan.
“We had the BetVictor Gold Cup in mind for Slate House throughout the summer,” assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said at a media event staged by Cheltenham Racecourse at Kempton Park on Monday.
“Slate House started his novice hurdle campaign very well two years ago, beating [2017 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner] Summerville Boy at Cheltenham, and then that season petered out.
“He became a bit keen and wasn’t finishing his races, and then he chipped a bone in his knee at Aintree, which stopped him having any summer in the field as he was on box rest for three months, hence last year was just about getting him going again. He never looked particularly well and sometimes those injuries can set horses back that far.
“We felt he had a nice mark coming into this season, which we kind of lost at Cheltenham last time as he has gone up 12lbs.
“The performance at Cheltenham was very good. We thought he would run well, but we did not think he would win like he did. It can be hard to assess because it was bordering on heavy ground and it is early in the season, which can catch a few horses out. I just think he handled conditions better than the rest.
“We are going to have a go with him on Saturday, but we have the advantage of being able to drop back to the novice route afterwards. I appreciate how competitive the BetVictor Gold Cup is from my riding days, and this is one of the biggest races of the season this side of Christmas.
He added: “We will probably have half a dozen runners at The November Meeting. The ground has been a lot softer compared to this time last year, which means we have been able to run horses a lot earlier this season.”
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