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Defending champion Native River among 19 Irish Pointers in Gold Cup

The defending champion Native River heads a list of 43 initial acceptances which includes no fewer than 19 former Irish point-to-pointers.

Denis Ahern’s Dromahane four-year-old maiden graduate defeated Sizing John in last year’s renewal when claiming the blue ribbon prize in national hunt racing for the Colin Tizzard yard, and he is currently a 9/2 shot to repeat the feat following his third in the King George at Kempton, in what is a wide-open race.

Road To Respect already has a Grade 1 victory under his belt this season, following his victory in the JNWine Champion Chase at Down Royal and Noel Meade’s charge, who won his four-year-old maiden at Monksgrange for Eoin Griffin, is one of six entries in the race for Gigginstown House Stud.

Four of that Gigginstown sextet are former pointers, with Shattered Love, Outlander and Thyestes Chase winner Monbeg Notorious, also all started their careers in the Irish point-to-point fields.

The hugely successful Colin McKeever and Wilson Dennison partnership are responsible for a trio of the 43 entries, with Bellshill and Yorkhill representing Willie Mullins, whilst their Tinahely winner, Blaklion, went off as the favourite for last year’s Aintree National for Nigel Twiston Davies.

The Moira runner-up, Bellshill, has made three previous visits to the Festival, peaking with his third in the Grade 1 RSA Chase behind Mite Bite in 2017. The King’s Theatre gelding ended last season with his biggest success to date in the Grade 1 Punchestown Gold Cup, and he is a 16/1 shot for the £625,000 Magners Gold Cup after finishing a close fourth in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown on his reappearance.

Elegant Escape chased home Samcro in his point-to-point at Monksgrange, and he has quite a similar route to his stable companion Native River, winning the Welsh National at Chepstow over Christmas, whilst Loughanmore winner Definitly Red is undefeated this season following two Grade 2 successes in the autumn, and he will be out to improve upon his sixth in last year’s renewal for the Brian Ellison yard.

The pair are both 20/1 shots for the Grade 1 prize.

The Irish point-to-pointers in the Gold Cup entry are completed by American, Double Shuffle, Give Me A Copper, Invitation Only, Killultagh Vic, Minella Rocco, Monalee, Rathvinden and Total Recall.
 

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