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Weird Al gets Cheltenham Gold Cup call

Ian Williams has confirmed Weird Al will go for glory in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The eight-year-old was unbeaten over obstacles before disappointing in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury back in November, after which a breathing problem was discovered.

He has since undergone corrective surgery and while he also holds an entry in the Ryanair Chase at Prestbury Park, Williams is keen to let his exciting charge take his chance in the blue riband.

“We've decided that Weird Al goes for the Gold Cup. He's got to step up his game a little, but he's had a hobday operation since Newbury,” said Williams.

“Since we've had him back he's going well.”

Weird Al is now a best priced 40-1 for the Festival's feature contest on Friday.

Robert Thornton will replace Hadden Frost on Henrietta Knight's Somersby in the sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday.

His participation in the race had been up in the air, with the Ryanair Chase mentioned as a possible alternative.

But due to owner Camilla Radford requiring hospital treatment on Thursday, the day of the Ryanair, the seven-year-old will instead run in the shorter race.

Frost has not secured a winner since November and this weekend returns from a 12-day ban for riding a circuit too soon.

“Choc (Thornton) rode him twice last year. Hadden has done nothing wrong on Somersby but he lacks the experience of championship races,” Knight said.

“He has also been off for two weeks. You need to have someone who is on the ball and knows the form in those sort of races.

“He ran well under Choc in the Arkle. He'll probably come over and have pop over a few fences between now and the race.

“Hadden will ride Racing Demon if he gets in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle on Thursday.”

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