The Cheltenham Gold Cup and not the Grand National is the next big test that awaits Neptune Collonges this season, it has been confirmed.
Ladbrokes are offering any stake money back on non runners in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which should have ensured that punters were not reluctant to place an ante-post bet on Neptune Collonges in fear that he may not have run.
Neptune Collonges is 33/1 in the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting, which seems a decent price bearing in mind he has finished third in the race before and secured victory in the Argento Chase at the same course last month, in what was his first race for over a year.
Connections were also considering whether to run the ten-year-old grey in the Grand National, but have turned the race down for another year, largely because of the fact he would have had to carry top weight of 11-10 around Aintree.
This weight would have seriously hindered his chances of victory as no horse has carried more than 11-8 to victory in the Grand National since Red Rum in 1977.
Trainer Paul Nicholls said: “We’ve decided he’s got too much weight. He is A1 now and will go for the Gold Cup.
“He could go to Aintree for the Totesport Bowl or Punchestown, but owner John Hales would like to leave the National for next year.”
Nicholls has also stated that if Neptune Collonges can run close to his best at Cheltenham then there is no reason why he cannot at worst run into one of the places, which he did in 2008 when finishing third behind Denman.
The trainer currently has five horses with entries in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with Kauto Star and Denman perhaps representing his best chances of winning the race for the fourth time in five years.
Denman is 6/1 in the ante-post Cheltenham betting market, with Kauto Star 7/1 to complete a hat-trick of victories in the race.
A £25 stake on another Nicholls runner What A Friend winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup would return £825. New customers can sign up here for a free £25 bet.