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Doubt over Royal Pagaille Gold Cup bid

After another defining weekend when Irish-trained horses proved their supremacy over their British counterparts at Cheltenham, the prospect of a British winner of Jump racing’s showpiece in March look even slimmer.

The Willie Mullins – trained Capodanno, winner of the Grade II Cotswold Chase when beating The Real Whacker, Stay Away Fay and Ahoy Senor, is not even entered in the Gold Cup and will likely head elsewhere.

Herefordshire hopes that Royal Pagaille could improve on his previous efforts in the Gold Cup look remote after a fall at the last when staying on. Venetia Williams reported to the Racing Post on Sunday that the horse is sore and lodged at her vets, so the seven week interlude to the Gold Cup means a return to full fitness is quite unlikely.

Best priced among the remaining British entries are Shiskin and l’Homme Pressé, both at 10/1. The latter put in a good run on Saturday a week ago in the Fleur de Lys Chase at Lingfield that certainly merits his participation, but other British – trained horses are as likely to hold back for Aintree, which holds slightly less appeal among the Irish.

One exception is The Real Whacker, whose larger-than-life co-owner David Mann. In a proper-run race, the Patrick Neville – trained 8 year old was a 2 3/4l runner-up to Capodanno. The British effort is likely to be bolstered by Bravemansgame from Ditcheat, although his halo has slipped slightly since the King George.

This weekend’s Dublin Racing Festival was already a defining trials weekend for Irish horses in its previous guise, but has grown in stature for its new nomenclature. Galopin des Champs reappears in the Irish Gold Cup here for what promises to be a warm-up for March, and analysts will be taking note throughout the weekend.

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