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Monbeg Dude

Monbeg Dude (left): could go for Betfred Gold Cup at Cheltenham

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

Monbeg Dude team eye Gold Cup dream

THE dream grows for connections of Coral Welsh National winner Monbeg Dude after he was handed an entry for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on Wednesday.

Trained by Michael Scudamore for a syndicate that includes rugby union stars James Simpson-Daniel and Mike Tindall, Monbeg Dude saw his rating climb by a further 10lb to an official mark of 138 following his Chepstow triumph, having also gone up 7lb for his victory at Cheltenham in November.

With Gold Cup winners having an average official rating in the 170s over the past decade, Scudamore admits Monbeg Dude requires significant further improvement to earn his place in the field, although a satisfying performance in the Haydock Grand National Trial next month could result in his Cheltenham entry being taken up.

Should Monbeg Dude head for the Gold Cup on March 15 - for which he was a 66-1 shot with the sponsors on Wednesday - he would be attempting a double, although not necessarily in the same season, completed by Synchronised last year and also in the last 30 years by Burrough Hill Lad, Cool Ground and Master Oats.

Scudamore said: "It's probably very, very speculative and he'll have to go to Haydock next month and be very impressive there. We're probably getting carried away and dreaming but if he was very impressive at Haydock and it came up very soft at Cheltenham we'd be disappointed that we didn't spend £600 to put him in. We'll keep all doors open for now."

A total of 40 entries were made for the Gold Cup, and following a pounding from the weather over the last few months, a few days of sunshine has helped Cheltenham’s ground stage a recovery.

The next meeting at Cheltenham takes place on Saturday, January 26, with fresh ground to be opened up for the Festival in March afterwards.

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said on Wednesday: “I’d probably call the ground soft, good to soft in places and it’s recovered well. Up until New Year’s Day we averaged an inch a week for nine months and had the best part of three inches in the ten days before we called it off. It took five days to dry out to a stage where it was raceable.

“The forecast for next week is a bit colder and I’m sure at some stage we’ll get more frost that the one week we had in December. The ground we race on between October and January is different to that we use in March which is behind rails and hasn’t been used since April.”
 
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