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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Flanagan excited as stronger Road To Respect begins road to Gold Cup

Stablemate Disko looking 'super' says rider

Road To Respect: Sean Flanagan hopes he will improve on last season's Gold Cup fourth
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Sean Flanagan believes Cheltenham Gold Cup fourth Road To Respect is "much stronger" as he prepares for a campaign tailored towards another bid in March.

Winner of the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown in December, the Noel Meade-trained chaser finished 12 and a half lengths behind Native River in the Cheltenham showpiece before rounding off his season with third place in the Punchestown Gold Cup.

Flanagan, the retained rider for Meade, said on Friday: "We're looking at going back to Leopardstown with Road To Respect and then I'd imagine the Gold Cup will be his target.

Watch Road To Respect win the Christmas Chase

"I had one sit on him and he's a much stronger horse this season. He's in great form and everything is coming together with him now."

Road To Respect is a general 25-1 shot for the Magners-backed Cheltenham Gold Cup and Flanagan added: "Last season soft ground played into the winner's hands, but the second horse [Might Bite] wanted better ground too. 

"Our horse ran a respectable race and it'll be great to go back again."

Flanagan is also regular rider of 40-1 Gold Cup hopeful Disko, a dual Grade 1 winner as a novice who was absent with injury after winning at Down Royal last November.

"We've also got Disko returning to look forward to," said the rider, who partnered him to Flogas Novice Chase success over Our Duke in February 2017.

Disko: dual Grade 1 winner in great shape as he nears return from injury
"He's a different type of horse to Road To Respect but ticks all the boxes and if we can keep him sound he has every right to be there in the Cheltenham Gold Cup."

Flanagan added: "I haven't sat on him yet but he's cantering now. Hopefully he'll be out soon and I can ride him. He looks absolutely super and his issues are all fine now. There's a lot more to look forward to.

"He had only one start last season but he won it well and was impressive. He appears the type to come back stronger every year."

Flanagan has formed a formidable alliance with Meade since taking over as stable jockey in 2016 when Paul Carberry retired. He rode 33 of the trainer's 57 winners in Ireland last season.

The jockey added: "Last year was a good season, winning two Grade 1 wins was brilliant, and I'm excited to get started again.

"Noel's got a lot of nice young horses, we've got plenty to look forward to. Moyross will go for a beginners' chase on Monday and should be a nice horse. Daly Tiger is one to keep an eye out for too, he had some good form last year."

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I had one sit on him and he's a much stronger horse this season. He's in great form and everything is coming together with him now
E.W. Terms
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