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Sunday 16 December 2018

Mitchell confident about forgotten Listener

Last year's winner Joncol is a general 7/4 favourite for Saturday's rearranged Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown after the latest forfeit stage took place yesterday.

The race reverted back to the original early closing entries but, as expected, last week's ante-post favourite Pride Of Dulcote was not among the 11 that stood their ground, and instead Madison Du Berlais could make the line-up.

Money Trix, another horse which seems to have a fondness for testing conditions, is the 9/2 second favourite, which is a similar price to Cooldine, which could be backed at 5/1 with William Hill.

Cooldine's stable companion Kempes is a 7/1 shot, while English challenger The Listener is as big as 10/1 despite the confidence of his trainer Nick Mitchell.

The Listener will be having just his second run in almost a year and a half, and was last seen when finishing fifth behind Pandorama on his comeback run at Christmas following a tendon injury.

Mitchell said yesterday: "He has come out of the Lexus very well and the main objective was to get a race into him and to come back with his leg as clean as a whistle, and it has been, touch wood. He hasn't missed a beat and it has been behaving itself and we will kick on."

The trainer saddled the 12-year-old to win the JNWine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal in November 2009 and took over the training from Robert and Sally Alner, who the horse won this race with in 2008.



Extravagant

Mitchell continued: "He had a very common tendon stress on his foreleg and we managed to get it very early before it got seriously bad. He has had stem-cell surgery and he has come back from this sort of injury quite quickly with a view to his age and being 12 now and, so far, it has worked fine.

"I was delighted by his run in the Lexus where he was quite extravagant in his jumping even by his standards, but to get to the last upsides on his first time on a racecourse after that time off and at his age was a great effort.

"He was entitled to have a bit of a blow and I'm hoping that it's not his age catching up with him, but all the signs are that he still has the ability there."

The Listener is another of the field whose form suggests he won't mind the very testing conditions that Leopardstown is set to provide on Saturday.

"The ground at Leopardstown will probably stay quite testing which will suit him and this will be his eighth run there," added Mitchell.

"He loves the course as it is a lovely big, galloping track and he gallops and jumps.

"If the opposition is similar to last Saturday, without Pride Of Dulcote, I have a lot of faith in him and he is a bit of a forgotten horse."

The Dorset-based trainer is taking hope from a former Irish favourite, Beef Or Salmon.

"Beef Or Salmon won it as an 11-year-old so it can happen, and look what Monet's Garden did as a 12-year-old," said Mitchell. "The Listener is a Roselier, the same as Monet's Garden, so that gives me a bit of heart and he doesn't look an old horse and he goes to Ireland with every chance."

Hennessy Gold Cup - Paddy Power Bet: 7-4 Joncol, 7-2 Cooldine, 9-2 Money Trix, 7 Kempes, 10 China Rock, The Listener, 14 Glencove Marina, 16 Madison Du Berlais, 33 Let Yourself Go, 50 Made In Taipan, Trafford Lad

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