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Tullamore Not to be Overlooked in Centenary Chase

Although he still holds entries in three races at the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival, Nick Gifford's Tullamore Dew is reported to be most likely to run in the Centenary Novices' Handicap Chase, the closing event on the opening day of the four-day fixture, writes Elliot Slater.

Tullamore Dew

Tullamore Dew

For a horse of his ability, it is somewhat surprising that for the most part Gifford's charge tends to be seen at the 'gaff' tracks rather than the showcase racecourses, but there is little doubt that he has already proved himself a talented novice chaser and is entitled on form to a great deal of respect in the two-and-a-half mile contest. Even more so if you glance at what he did last year on his one and only visit to Cheltenham when sent off an 80/1 shot for the Coral Cup, running the race of his life to be a tremendous second of 28 runners to Nicky Henderson's smart Spirit River. It was an upset in the Cheltenham odds, and one that would have rewarded each-way backers.

Switched to fences after having a pipe-opener over timber at the start of the term, the nine-year-old got off the mark at the first time of asking in handing out a 23-length thrashing to Zhukov in heavy ground at Fontwell. Second to subsequent Grade 1 winner Medermit at Plumpton next time out, Tullamore Dew then got back on the winning trail when coasting to victory back at Plumpton in early January.

A tactical three-runner race at the sharp Fakenham circuit probably didn't play to the strengths of the Gifford horse on his most recent outing, but he still had every chance when blundering at the last, and despite recovering and running-on well he failed by three-quarters-of-a-length to peg back the useful dual purpose performer Mamlook.

Also entered in the Arkle Chase and the Byrne Group Plate, Tullamore Dew's preferred option is almost certainly the Centenary Novices Chase, for which he is currently on offer at odds of 20/1.

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