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Last Updated: 09/12/11 5:20pm
Great Endeavour: In good form ahead of Saturday
David Pipe acknowledges that only time will tell whether Saturday's Spinal Research The Atlantic 4 Gold Cup at Cheltenham will prove to be a race too many for Great Endeavour.
The seven-year-old was a superb winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Prestbury Park a month ago, and was turned out just a fortnight later for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, where he ran with plenty of credit to finish fourth over three and a quarter miles
He comes back to a more suitable distance this weekend and Pipe is keeping his fingers crossed his talented grey can continue his excellent run of form
"He seems in good form at home and I'm very happy with him, but you don't really know until they come under pressure at the end of a race," said Pipe.
"I'd imagine it will be lovely ground, his form is rock solid and we know he likes Cheltenham.
"He goes there with every chance and we just hope he can continue his good form."
The Pond House handler has three other big-race candidates in I'msingingtheblues, Salut Flo and Matuhi.
Pipe said: "I'msingingtheblues is high in the weights but is stepping up in trip. The ground is important to him and hopefully he can run well.
"Matuhi was going well in the Galway Plate when he was brought down, and Salut Flo is a good horse as well. I think they all have each-way claims."
Leading owner Andy Stewart is sponsoring the race in aid of Spinal Research after his son Paul suffered a serious injury in a snowboarding accident a couple of years ago.
Stewart will be represented by the well-fancied Ghizao, as well as Tatenen and Nomecheki, and any prize-money accrued by his horses will be going to the charity.
"I think is Ghizao going there with every chance. Perhaps the ground is slightly against him at the moment but there is rain forecast and that should help," said Stewart.
"I'm totally amazed Tony McCoy has decided to get off Quantitativeeasing (to ride Sunnyhillboy) as I thought he was our main danger.
"Great Endeavour had a very hard race in the Hennessy, so I hope Ghizao can do it for Spinal Research.
"He didn't run that badly at Exeter and he never has gone well first time out. Ruby (Walsh) thought he could get into this race on a nice weight, so fingers crossed,
"Tatenen hasn't run this season, but I don't think he's going to get lapped.
"He's had a breathing operation over the summer and has had two racecourse gallops, so he's as fit as a fiddle.
"Andrew Thornton plans to do the same as he did when he won at Ascot last season and ride him from the front - he's not going to hang around.
"Nomecheki will be carrying a few pounds overweight but there is prize-money down to sixth and if he can pick some up for Spinal Research that would be great."
Ghizao's trainer Paul Nicholls hopes the gelding's jumping will not come under so much pressure as he steps up in distance.
Nicholls said: "I think Ghizao might run well but it will be very competitive.
"He was impressive at Newbury last year but he sort of lost his way a little. I thought he'd run well in the Haldon Gold Cup the other day but he didn't jump very well.
"Running over a bit further we are hoping he might jump better. We've done a lot of schooling with him and if he jumps better he'll run better."
Ferdy Murphy's Divers was an excellent third in the Paddy Power and conditions looked to be going in his favour earlier this week, but the West Witton handler is slightly concerned about overnight rain at the track.
The grey will now be ridden by Keith Mercer after stable jockey Graham suffered a broken collarbone in a fall at Huntingdon.
"They had seven millimetres of rain last night, which wouldn't help. My son is down there at the moment and he says the ground will be tacky enough," said Murphy.
"He seems in good form, so we'll just have to see which way it goes with the ground.
"It's a shame Graham can't ride but Keith is good enough to do the job."
McCoy had the choice of Paddy Power runner-up Quantitativeeasing and Sunnyhillboy, third in this race last year.
The latter's trainer, Jonjo O'Neill, said: "He likes the track, even though I know he has fallen there before, and he has a lovely weight. It won't be a lovely weight for AP, but it's a lovely weight for the horse.
"He's in great form, as are all the horses at the moment, but a little rain wouldn't go amiss.
"He might want a bit further these days but you've got to be able to stay in these races."
In McCoy's absence, Quantitativeeasing will be partnered by Barry Geraghty.
His trainer, Nicky Henderson, said: "It's AP's prerogative to choose the other horse and we're pleased to have Barry.
"Our horse like the track. He was second in the Paddy Power and second at the Festival in March. Hopefully it will be third time lucky."