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Last Updated: 25/11/11 1:18pm
Great Endeavour: No stamina doubts
David Pipe is confident stamina will not be an issue for Great Endeavour when the grey goes for glory in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday.
Drying conditions have given the Nicholashayne trainer further cause for optimism as the David Johnson-owned seven-year-old tackles a trip fully six furlongs further than when he won the Paddy Power Gold Cup just two weeks earlier.
Pipe's father, Martin, saddled Celestial Gold, also carrying the Johnson colours and ridden by Great Endeavour's jockey Timmy Murphy, to take both races in 2004.
And the trainer is expecting a bold bid from his representative in this year's renewal of a race he won with Madison Du Berlais in 2008.
"It's not long since the Paddy Power, but he seems to have come out of the race well," said Pipe.
"It looks like the ground is coming in our favour, drying out.
"Obviously, with 10st 9lb he has a great weight. He's only got a 4lb penalty for the Paddy Power and he's gone up 10lb.
"I think he'll be all right over the distance and we'll leave the tactics to Timmy (Murphy) - he knows what he's doing.
"In the main he's a good jumper and apart from that mistake at the last at Cheltenham it was probably the best round of jumping I've seen him put in."They will be going a stride slower than what they did in the Paddy Power, a two-and-a-half-mile race, so hopefully his jumping will be fine."
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls is triple-handed with top-weight Neptune Collonges, Aiteen Thirtythree and Michel Le Bon.
Nicholls will be attempting to add his tally to a race he has won with Strong Flow in 2003 and twice with Denman in 2007 and 2009.
He said: "Neptune Collonges will only carry 11st 5lb (with Harry Derham's claim) - he's been used to carrying big weights in Grade One races.
"He's a bit older and slower now, but, saying that, he's a year younger than Kauto (Star), so you never know.
"He's run well in Gold Cups and ran well in the Argento Chase last year.
"He's got a lot of class, and I'm sure he'll give Harry a great ride."
Aiteen Thirtythree has led the ante-post market since making an encouraging return to action four weeks ago, when second to Somersby at Kempton.
"Aiteen Thirtythree has won twice around Newbury, is off a favourable weight, in very good order and is ready to go," Nicholls said.
"It was a good run the other day as we needed to take the freshness off him."
Michel Le Bon has been absent since making a successful chasing debut on this course two years ago.
"He hasn't run for two years and obviously only had one run over fences," the trainer told www.newbury-racecourse.co.uk.
"If he can put a clear round in, get into a rhythm early on and jump, he'd have a chance."
Philip Hobbs sent out What's Up Boys to take this prestigious prize in 2001 and is three-handed this time with Planet Of Sound, Fair Along and Balthazar King.
The first-named horse has not run since being well beaten behind Long Run in the rearranged King George VI Chase at Kempton in January.
"Planet Of Sound had a minor accident in a field at his owner's in August, so he didn't come back until right at the end of August," said Hobbs.
"Ideally I'd like another couple of weeks. Having said that, there's no point running in the Hennessy unless you think they are 100%, which I think he is.
"In another couple of weeks I could have been certain."
Paul Webber reports Sarando, a winner at Carlisle earlier this month, to be fighting fit for the challenge.
"He seems in outrageous form still," said the Banbury trainer.
"I look at the roll of Hennessy winners and I can't quite see Sarando's name up against Denman and Diamond Harry and all those wonderful horses, but you never know.
"It may not be the hottest Hennessy in the world. I sold State Of Play a few years ago and had to watch him win (in 2006), so let's see if we can put that to bed."
The Tim Vaughan-trained Beshabar takes his chance as he starts off on the road to a crack at the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree.
The nine-year-old showed his relative lack of experience over fences was no drawback when winning the Scottish National at Ayr in April on his latest outing.
"We'd like to save him for the Grand National, but six months is a long time in the life of a chaser," said Tim Palin, racing manager for owners Middleham Park Racing.
"He's got a good profile for the Hennessy. I know he's eight, going on nine, but he's only a second-season chaser and has only run five times over fences.
"It's a great trial for the National and the Hennessy can be harder to win as you've got your second-season unexposed chasers on the rise.
"Tim's very pleased with him. He's a stuffy horse and might not be at his best first time, but he will do his best to get him cherry-ripe for the day.
"I think he will improve for the race and if he finishes third, fourth or fifth that would be good.
"I'll be disappointed if he's not there or thereabouts turning for home."
Wymott has only had four runs over fences, mainly in small fields, but trainer Donald McCain feels the time is right to see if he is up to this task.
"Graham (Lee) came in and rode him on Thursday and schooled him and everything went well," said McCain.
"The horse is grand and in good form and he's as well as I can get him without having had a run.
"He's at the right end of the weights and it's a question of whether he's man enough for a race like the Hennessy.
"He's only really had small-field experience so far, but we're only going to find out whether he'll handle it one way - and that's by having a go."
Nick Gifford has high hopes Tullamore Dew will last out this longer trip on the expected decent ground.
And the Findon trainer reports the nine-year-old to have come back from his fall in the Paddy Power Gold Cup in fine form.
"I'm really happy with him. He schooled on Tuesday, Liam (Treadwell) gave him a pop and that fall at Cheltenham doesn't seem to have affected him. He jumped super at home," said Gifford.
"He only went a mile and a half at Cheltenham and he seems very bright and full of it at home.
"With the ground as it is, we thought we'd try him over this trip. Had it been very soft or heavy we probably wouldn't have run him.
"If he his going to stay it will be on this ground and it looks a wide-open renewal, so we thought we'd take a chance."
Carruthers made a welcome return to form when third to Galaxy Rock on his seasonal debut at Cheltenham.
However, connections of the Mark Bradstock-trained eight-year-old would have preferred conditions to have been more testing.
"He's come back from this summer much stronger. He wasn't quite right last year," said Bradstock's wife, Sara.
"He had a bug early on and got over it without ever being properly OK.
"He's running with a tongue-tie for the first time, which we think may help him.
"He ran really nicely the other day. He was very enthusiastic but on good ground he's always vulnerable to something with a bit of toe.
"We just need it to be tiring ground."
Alan King would also liked to have seen softer conditions for Blazing Bailey, who was last seen being pulled up behind Beshabar in the Scottish National.
"Realistically, Blazing Bailey has it to do, but he has been a wonderful servant and if the heavens did open that would help our cause," the Barbury Castle trainer told www.alankingracing.co.uk.