Hennessy Roqued by double hit
Quito and Jessies Dream to miss Gold run
SUNDAY'S Irish Hennessy Gold Cup suffered two major blows yesterday as both Jessies Dream and Quito De La Roque were ruled out of the race just 24 hours after being confirmed as intended runners.
A total of 10 runners were confirmed on Tuesday at the final forfeit stage of the race, but yesterday that was down to eight with Lexus Chase winner Synchronised also yet to be confirmed.
After giving quite an upbeat bulletin on last season's RSA Chase runner-up Jessies Dream on Tuesday, Gordon Elliott was gutted to yesterday announce that his first Grade One winner is now unlikely to race at all this season.
The David Johnson-owned chaser had pleased in a schooling hurdle race at Fairyhouse last week and in his schooling at home on Tuesday. However, he lacked "sparkle" yesterday according to the Meath-based trainer.
"Following a very disappointing display in his last piece of work before the Hennessy, Jessies Dream will not run in Leopardstown on Sunday," revealed Elliott.
"He was in great form and schooled really well but today there was no sparkle so at this stage, with time against us, I'm not sure he will make the track at all this season."
Colm Murphy's hopes to see Quito De La Roque put his disappointing display in the Lexus Chase behind him were also dashed yesterday, when he announced that the JNWine.com Champion Chase winner wouldn't be going in search of further Grade One success this weekend.
The general favourite for the race scoped badly and Murphy said: "It's just a little hiccup really, we weren't 100pc happy with him when he was ridden this afternoon, so we had him scoped to see what the problem was and he has a bit of mucus in him."
Murphy added: "I'm not sure what we will do now. I'll speak to Michael and Eddie O'Leary, this was 'Plan A', so I'm not sure what 'Plan B' will be."
Quel Esprit is now the clear favourite for the red-hot Willie Mullins team as he bids to lay down his Cheltenham Gold Cup credentials following two facile wins on his last two starts. Quel Esprit is a best-priced 25/1 for the Gold Cup next month having been twice that price prior to his last run. However, with a now depleted field on Sunday, his ability to tackle the likes of Long Run and Kauto Star will surely be harder to assess.
Last year's RSA Chase winner Bostons Angel has failed to reignite his form of last season as of yet, but with her horses back in top form trainer Jessica Harrington is looking forward to a good run from him.
"He seems to be fine, he worked last week and I was happy with him and the plan is to run at the weekend," said Harrington.
"He disappointed me at Sandown and before that he came down at an early stage in Down Royal, he just wasn't right so we had to skip the Lexus, but he is fine again now."
Follow The Plan, who won last year's Guinness Gold Cup at the Punchestown Festival, and Roberto Goldback, who fell at the last in the same race, are also both intended runners, while confirmation was expected today regarding Synchronised.