Long-absent Minella Rocco all set for Cotswold Chase reappearance

Cheltenham the preferred option over Doncaster

  • Tuesday 22 January
  • News
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Minella Rocco is set to make his long-awaited return to action in the BetBright Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Runner-up to Sizing John in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Jonjo O’Neill-trained nine-year-old has not been seen in competitive action since suffering a final-fence fall in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown last February.

Minella Rocco also holds an entry in this weekend’s Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster, but is set to head to Prestbury Park.

Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, said: “Minella Rocco is in good form and the intention is to run in the Cotswold Chase.

“He is also in the Sky Bet Chase, but I would think the ground is going to be too quick for him at Doncaster. Hopefully, we will be able to get him out at Cheltenham.

“He has been ready to roll for a few weeks there now, but we have not been able to run him because of the ground.

“This looks a good opportunity to get him out and hopefully he will run well.”

Minella Rocco could face seven rivals at the weekend, including Colin Tizzard’s Welsh Grand National hero Elegant Escape.

Second in the Ladbrokes Trophy to sidelined stablemate Sizing Tennessee prior to his big day at Chepstow, he is one of three potential Magners Gold Cup challengers for Tizzard.

Current title holder Native River and Thistlecrack give the Dorset handler a strong hand this year and Elegant Escape could now get the chance to prove himself outside of handicap company.

Paul Nicholls’ Frodon is the highest-rated runner among the entries, on a lofty mark of 169, and his connections are also harbouring Gold Cup ambitions.

Having struck up a great rapport with Bryony Frost, he has taken his form to a new level this season, winning the Old Roan Chase and the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.

Nicholls could also run Black Corton, another who gets on well with Frost.

Nicky Henderson has two possibles in Terrefort, who is on the comeback trail having finished behind Elegant Escape at Sandown earlier this season, and Valtor, who spreadeagled the field on his British debut at Ascot.

The latter missed the Peter Marsh Chase last weekend with a minor issue.

Harry Fry’s American and the Richard Hobson-trained Allysson Monterg complete the list.

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Cheltenham 14:25, 26 January 2019

Cheltenham 14:25, 26 January 2019

Cheltenham 14:25, 26 January 2019

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