Cheltenham - At The Races

Another Gold run an 'option' for Happy Diva

    Cheltenham winner could return in search of handicap double.
  • Wednesday 27 November 2019
  • News

Happy Diva may bid to become just the fourth horse to complete Cheltenham’s big pre-Christmas handicap double in next month’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.

Kerry Lee’s mare is one of 38 entries, published on Wednesday, for the £130,000 two-and-a-half-mile Grade Three on December 14.

If Happy Diva seeks to add to her course-and-distance success in this month’s BetVictor Gold Cup, she may again have her two closest pursuers from that race in attendance – with runner-up Brelan D’As and Warthog in the reckoning to try again.

Lee has yet to decide whether her stable star heads back to Cheltenham, but confirmed it is a plan under serious consideration.

She said: “Happy Diva has come out of the BetVictor Gold Cup in good form.

“We were delighted with the performance, and it was fantastic to see her win a big race like that.

“She has been entered in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, and that race is a possible target.

“At this stage, the race is an option – and we will make a firm decision nearer the time.”

It is 13 years since Exotic Dancer became the most recent to pull off the big handicap double, so Happy Diva would be entering elite company should she manage to follow suit.

Among other notable Caspian Caviar entries is Cepage, runner-up last year to subsequent Cheltenham Festival hero Frodon on his only start of the campaign – but on course to try again after returning with another fine second at Aintree.

Trainer Venetia Williams, who is Herefordshire-based like Lee, said: “Cepage shaped really well at Aintree when finishing second.

“He had been off the track for 11 months after sustaining a tendon injury last year in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. That race is again the plan with him.

“He has run some great races in defeat, and it would be great if he could get his head in front in a race like this.”

Frodon’s 11-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls is the most successful in the history of the race – having won it on five occasions – and as well as Brelan D’As, he has entered Capeland, Secret Investor and Magic Saint in this year’s renewal.

Nicholls’ great rival Nicky Henderson supplies the most entries of all – seven, including ex-French Graded winner Kobrouk.

Willie Mullins has the only two Irish possibles – Acapella Bourgeois and Robin Des Foret – while Amy Murphy’s Kalashnikov and Warren Greatrex’s Haydock winner Keeper Hill are among the other eye-catching entries.

Nicky Richards’ Guitar Pete may be back too, having won the race in 2017.