Bob camp expecting improvement
Dessie Hughes is confident of a bold show from Rare Bob in the Listed Majordomo Hospitality Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Friday.
The Grade One winner steps back up to three miles after finishing third behind Glencove Marina at Thurles on his seasonal bow, but preparations for the eight-year-old have suffered a blow as Tony McCoy is likely to be unavailable.
Hughes said: "Tony was meant to ride him but I got a call from (agent) Dave Roberts to tell me he can't do the weight. I'd imagine we'd get Paddy Flood over to ride him.
"It's been tough with the weather, but he's fit enough. It was quick enough ground at Aintree in April (when third behind From Dawn To Dusk) so he probably won't mind the ground too much - he's a good-moving horse.
"He didn't enjoy himself at Thurles. He hates being in front too long but had no option because there wasn't any pace on. This longer trip should suit and he's in good nick."
Neptune Collonges aims to set the record straight following an unfortunate mishap in the Hennessy Gold Cup. Paul Nicholls' nine-year-old made a protracted return at Newbury last month after suffering a tendon injury in the 2009 Gold Cup, in which he finished fourth.
The best-laid plans went awry, however, as he was brought down at the fourth fence in the Berkshire showpiece. Having escaped unscathed from that setback, Neptune Collonges must now shoulder top weight in the Majordomo Hospitality Handicap Chase.
Owner John Hales reported: "He had no ill effects from what happened in the Hennessy. He was unlucky because he jumped the fence beautifully and was brought down. The horse is fine and Paul has been very happy with him at home.
"We've got Ryan Mahon to ride him. He claims 5lb so we carry 11st 7lb. He'll improve for the run but I'd still expect him to run well - I'd be still hopeful he'd finish in the first three. He's the class horse in the race and has the form on the book. We're hoping all goes well on Friday and then we'll go back for the Lexus."