Blinkers next for Gold Cup hopeful What a Friend

Tagged under: 3.20 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase 3m 2 1/2f

Paul Nicholls will consider putting blinkers on Sir Alex Ferguson’s What A Friend when he runs in the totesport Gold Cup at Cheltenham Festival after failing to impress at Newbury on Friday.

Ridden by Harry Skelton, What A Friend went off 4/5 favourite in the Grade 2 Aon Chase but was beaten a head by stablemate Noland, three quarters a length in front of third placed Fair Along in a driving finish. What A Friend came on and off the bridle as the jockey tried to nurse his mount to the front when closing to challenge between the last two flights. Switching inside and out, Skelton was unable to put the eight-year-old’s head in front of his stablemate ridden by AP McCoy who held on with Fair Along closing with a final rally.

What A Friend was making his second racecourse appearance of the season and is still looking to get off the mark after being beaten fourteen-and-a-half lengths by Gold Cup favourite Imperial Commander at Haydock in November.

Speaking after the race, his trainer said: "What A Friend's run was adequate. Harry said from the minute he jumped off he was hating the ground. He'll be better on better ground and I might just put a pair of blinkers on him in the Gold Cup.

"You'd never know with him. If it came up good ground on the day he could run a blinder. You'd definitely let him take his chance and one race I'd love to run him in is the Grand National, although it might be a year too soon. But if it's very soft at Cheltenham, we might miss the race and find something at Aintree."

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