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Cheltenham: Josh to land the dosh

Sam Twiston-Davies vies to preserve his fairytale association with Little Josh in the Vote AP Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

Fortune has already played a considerable part in maintaining the dynamic partnership which came up trumps in the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November.

The rookie jockey was, however, resigned to losing the ride after incurring a three-day suspension at Kempton in November.

But with the Grade One Tingle Creek having been switched to Cheltenham due to Sandown's abandonment last weekend, Twiston-Davies is eligible for the ride under British Horseracing Authority regulations.

He said: "It's a great result that the Tingle Creek has been switched— it couldn't have worked out any better.

"Horses like him don't come around too often and I'd have hated to have given up the ride."

Although only three horses have won both races in the same season, the last being Exotic Dancer in 2006, Twiston-Davies' exuberance is understandable.

Trained by his father, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Little Josh jumped beautifully in the Paddy Power, defeating the much-vaunted Long Run after having made all of the running.

Twiston-Davies jnr added: "He's beaten Long Run, who is a very good horse, so he's obviously got 100 per cent rock-solid form.

"He's gone up 9lb, but that's not the end of the world because he seems to keep improving.

"He's not done much this week - just a bit of cantering - but he's fresh and well and ready to go."

Although Little Josh is seemingly best from the head of affairs, Twiston-Davies would be unfazed if he does not go straight for the jugular.

"My instructions are to be positive and that's what I'll try and do," the 18-year-old rider said.

"There's not a whole deal of pace in the race so I'll try and bounce out and make it.

"If not, it doesn't matter because he's a very flexible horse and you can do anything you like with him.

"The one concern I might have, though, could be the ground.

"It's likely to be pretty fast at the weekend and maybe we could have done with a bit of cut."

Ireland make a watertight case for top honours, with Duers, Gonebeyondrecall and the Tony Martin duo of Northern Alliance and Psycho all having been declared.

Martin said: "Psycho has always been a good jumper but was unlucky last year and he had a few falls when he was going well.

"It was great to see him back to his best at Naas and the same sort of performance should put him there or thereabouts.

"Northern Alliance has been working very well and he deserves to win another big race like this.

"He did OK at Naas last time but probably needs the step up in trip.

"He's won the Kerry National last year over three miles so should be happy enough with the trip at the weekend."

Tom Taaffe's Finger Onthe Pulse also makes the trip across the Irish Sea and will, significantly, be ridden by Tony McCoy.

The race is this season named in honour of the 15-times champion's quest to be crowned the BBC Sports Personality of the Year later in the month.

Frank Berry, racing manager for owner JP McManus, said: "Finger Onthe Pulse ran well to a point in the Paddy Power and I'd say he's going back there in good old form.

"If he can show the form he did when winning at Galway and finishing third in the Kerry National, he should run a very good race.

"It would be great for Tony to win the race."

McManus' green and gold silks will also be represented by Sunnyhillboy, trained by Jonjo O'Neill.

Berry added: "Sunnyhillboy ran well for a long way in the Paddy Power and hopefully the run has brought him on.

"He's got a nice racing weight, so he should run well too."

David Pipe is double-handed with Great Endeavour and Matuhi.

"Great Endeavour ran OK in the Paddy Power, but we were expecting a little bit more from him," said the Pond House handler.

"He seems in good form at home. We schooled him in the week and he jumped nicely.

Time For Rupert bids to consolidate his position as ante-post favourite for the RSA Chase when he lines up for the DRS Contract Novices' Chase .

Last season's World Hurdle runner-up emerged as market leader for Festival honours after making a bright start to his career over fences with victory over an extended two and a half miles at the Prestbury Park venue.

The form was given a timely boost when the fourth that day, Reve de Sivola, was victorious in yesterday in a novice chase.

Belfast Telegraph

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