Punchestowns Ruled Out Of Cheltenham Gold Cup And World Hurdle.


Tagged under: 5.15 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Steeple Chase 2m 1/2f

The Nicky Henderson trained Punchestowns was effectively ruled out of the 2011 Cheltenham Festival, at a pre Cheltenham press conference today.

" I think we can say Punchestowns won't be here," reported his handler.

" I don't think he'll win a Gold Cup or World Hurdle so we are better to stay out of it. There's Aintree and we've always said he should run at Punchestown one year. Maybe it could be this year. That would be over fences."

With the publication of the weights for the Festival handicaps today, Henderson admitted he may have to revise plans, especially where his four-year-olds are concerned.

A Media Luz looked like running in the JCB Triumph Hurdle, but after being given 11s 4lb in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle plans could well be altered according to Henderson, who explained: " What we thought was sorted a fortnight ago has now fallen out of order - some are now in and some are now out - and we need to go away and have a think."

The one handicap Henderson would dearly love to win is that commemorating his late father ( Johnny Henderson Grand Annual ), in which the trainer holds a very strong hand.

While top weight French Opera is a possible runner in the sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase, it would not be a surprise to see the gelding take part in both contests.

Stablemate Tanks For That is the current 8/1 favourite for the final race at the Festival, and has been allotted a handy weight of 10s 4lb.

Should French Opera defect from the contest the weights are likely to rise considerably, in effect putting more fancied runners from the stable at a disadvantage.

Running French Opera off 11s 12lb with a decent claimer on board, would make a lot of sense for all concerned.

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