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Flo straight to Cheltenham

Leading Paddy Power Imperial Cup fancy Salut Flo will miss Saturday's valuable handicap in favour of a trip to the Cheltenham Festival.

David Pipe's French recruit was mightily impressive on his British debut at Doncaster last weekend, making a mockery of an initial chase mark of 118 to beat Soulard by 12 lengths.

But a statement on the trainer's website said: “David confirmed that the ex-French recruit, an impressive winner over fences at Doncaster last week, will instead be left in the Jewson Novices' Handicap Chase on the Thursday and the Grand Annual on the Friday.

“Salut Flo will compete with just a 5lb penalty for his impressive success.”

Qaspal is an intended runner, but connections face a waiting game to see if the gelding makes the final line-up.

Despite a 14lb penalty for his last victory, the Philip Hobbs-trained six-year-old needs six horses above him to come out to make the cut at Thursday's final declaration stage.

Owner JP McManus has four entries in the £70,000 feature and his racing manager Frank Berry said: “It's all up in the air and we don't know which way we're going as a few of them are in at Cheltenham as well.

“Qaspal at the bottom of ours might not get in, but he is a definite runner if he gets in. He has got a pretty big penalty, but did it nicely at Sandown.

“He has come out of his last race well and we're hoping that he will run well.

“Stradbrook could run as well and the other two are both in at Cheltenham and we'll decide on Thursday what we're doing.

“Bellvano and Sway could easily wait for Cheltenham. Bellvano is progressing all the time and he is a nice big horse.

“It would be a step up for him in handicap company and we'd have to see how he copes.”

Gary Moore has two entries, but Wade Farm Billy is also far from certain to make the cut.

“I doubt if Wade Farm Billy would get in. The only thing is if the ground dries out it might end up scaring off a few of them.

“He wants fast ground so that would suit him.”

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