Fakir D'oudairies heads December Gold Cup field

Graded winner Fakir D'oudairies heads the fifteen runners confirmed for Saturday’s December Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

Fakir D'Oudairies -Mark Walsh winners with Tony McCoy The Betfair Ascot Chase (Grade 1)
Fakir D'Oudairies -Mark Walsh winners with Tony McCoy The Betfair Ascot Chase (Grade 1) Picture: Pat Healy Photography

The eight-year-old gelding has performed against the very best opposition over hurdles and fences and will be dropping back in class for his first start since a second in the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree in April. Unsurprisingly, Fakir D'oudairies will need to shoulder top weight up the Cheltenham hill, but trainer Joseph O'Brien appears unconcerned by the task ahead.

"The plan is for him to run at Cheltenham," said O'Brien.

"It will be nice to get him back started this season and it looks a good place for his reappearance. Hopefully he goes well dropping in class."

Fakir D'oudairies will be joined by two representatives from the Paul Nicholls yard: Monmiral and Il Ridoto, who finished third in the Paddy Power Gold Cup during the October Meeting at Prestbury Park.

In his Betfair column, Nicholls said: "I'm looking forward to Saturday, they're both in great shape.

"Bryony [Frost] is going to ride Il Ridoto and Harry [Cobden] is going to ride Monmiral. We've just schooled them both and they're both in good order.

"Monmiral is a Grade One winner coming back from a few problems, I'm looking forward to running him."

Paddy Power have made Olly Murphy's Thunder Rock favourite at 3/1, with Fakir D'Oudairies a 7/1 shot. Monmiral is the more fancied of the two Nicholls' runners at 5/1.

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