No Cloudy forecast as Johnson takes reins
RICHARD JOHNSON has been booked by the Grand National-winning team of Sue and Harvey Smith for Hennessy Gold Cup contender Cloudy Too.
Having been thrust into the spotlight when Auroras Encore landed the famous race in April, the Smiths are now eyeing another of the big jumping prizes.
A decent novice last season, Cloudy Too dished out an eight-length beating to the smart Tap Night at Carlisle on his seasonal reappearance, booking his ticket for Newbury in the process.
"He's also in at Newcastle (Rehearsal Chase), but he'll go down to Newbury," said Harvey Smith.
"We've booked Richard Johnson.
"We think he's good so we'll find out how good. It will be nice if he gets into the same rhythm as at Carlisle."
Another northern raider is Donald McCain's Super Duty, who was beaten just a head by Same Difference in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival before finishing fourth to Dynaste in Grade One company at Aintree.
"Super Duty will run at Newbury," said McCain. "He might have just slipped under the radar a bit and that is exactly how we like it. He's in good nick and he schooled very well."
Cape Tribulation is a likely runner for Malton-based Malcolm Jefferson, which means the weights will not rise any further.
There was a 13lb hike in the handicap once Tidal Bay was taken out at the five-day declaration stage, which left the Gold Cup fifth at the top of the pile.
Jefferson said: "There aren't a lot of places you can go with him so I think he'll take his chance.
"All being well, he will run. With top weight, good to soft ground will be fine.
"Jack Doyle rides as Denis (O'Regan) has to go to Newcastle."
Irish raider Lord Windermere will also have a change of rider, with amateur Robbie McNamara coming in for the mount as Davy Russell is suspended.
Trainer Jim Culloty is delighted to have McNamara on board last season's RSA Chase hero as he has partnered the horse before, when a close third to Boston Bob in the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown in February.
Culloty said: "He's a top-class rider in his own right.
"If he wasn't heavy he'd be a very good professional. In view of the fact that, at the moment, we have 11st 8lb it looks like he'll have no lead on his back.
"Robbie can get to do that weight, just, and I'm very happy to have him.
"He's in good form. I'm very happy with him, he's schooled well. He's a decent horse and I don't think the handicapper has been overly hard on him."