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Davy Russell and Sir Des Champs aim for another crack at Bobs Worth

| 15.10.2013

Sir Des Champs will be aiming to put the unaccustomed defeats of last season behind him as he begins another campaign as Ireland’s leading staying chaser, with the Cheltenham Gold Cup once again his ultimate aim.

Willie Mullins’ gelding was beaten fair and square in the Festival showpiece by Bobs Worth last year, but proved himself best of the rest when confirming Cheltenham placings with Long Run, the apple of the Waley-Cohen family’s eye, at Punchestown.

However, his seven-length loss to Nicky Henderson’s gutsy son of Bob Back was one of only two races in the seven he’d contested over fences in which he wasn’t ridden by Davy Russell.

Russell had previously ridden the seven-year-old seven times, but missed his chance to pilot Sir Des Champs in the Gold Cup after puncturing a lung on Festival Thursday.

With the unfamiliar AP McCoy in the saddle the gelding was never going to receive such a sympathetic ride as he would have done from Russell, the race rider who knows him best.

Another reason to include him among your Cheltenham 2014 tips was the far from ideal season that preceded his tilt at Festival glory.

Smashed by Flemenstar when both horses were expected to come on for the run on his seasonal return, he then put in a dodgy round of fencing when a fast finishing fourth in the Lexus Chase.

When he finally got his nose in front it was an Irish Grade 1 lacking in depth, with himself and the second placed Flemenstar finishing some 23 lengths clear of a prosaic, two-strong chasing pack.

Granted a better preparation this year he’ll be right back at the top of the Cheltenham 2014 odds.