Twiston-Davies hopes for a winning first from Astracad
NIGEL Twiston-Davies could attempt to continue his strong start to the season at Cheltenham in the feature race of the International meeting.
The Guiting Power trainer has already saddled four Prestbury Park winners in five days of racing at the course.
He has started putting his plans into place for the International meeting on December 14 and 15 by entering two horses for the £100,000 Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Challenge Gold Cup on the second day.
Twiston-Davies has shortlisted Astracad and Have You Seen Me for one of the few top races at Cheltenham he has yet to win.
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Astracad has gained two of his four career success at Cheltenham and didn't run badly when finishing fourth at the Open meeting last month.
Have You Seen Me has won three times but hasn't raced since taking second spot at last year's April meeting at Cheltenham.
Twiston-Davies' two runners could be joined in the big-race field by one of the best horses from Kim Bailey's stable in Andoversford, The Rainbow Hunter.
The eight-year-old has won his past two races, following up a narrow victory at Southwell with biggest of his career so far at Ascot.
Martin Keighley has set himself up for a crack at the race by giving an early entry to Havingotascoobydo.
The five-time winner returned from an injury to finish tenth at the Showcase meeting at Cheltenham last month.
The quartet of horses trained in the county feature among an initial entry of 36 horses.
Trainer Alan King has given a Walkon a chance to go one place better in a top race at Cheltenham after he finished second to Al Ferof in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last time out.
King said the grey gelding had recovered quickly from that race and he planned to run him in the Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Challenge Gold Cup.
"He didn't surpass my expectations at all in the Paddy Power Gold Cup," he said.
"We were very pleased with him beforehand and we were expecting a big run and we got one."
King has also entered the lightly-raced nine-year-old Bakbenscher, but he said the gelding is unlikely to run.
The race is being sponsored by the Stewart family, headed by well-known businessman and racehorse owner Andy Stewart, who has enjoyed tremendous success with Big Buck's.
One of Stewart's sons, Paul, sustained a severe spinal injury in a snowboarding accident in December, 2008, and was paralysed from the waist down.
He was initially told by doctors that he would never walk again but he is embarking on a remarkable challenge next year when participating in an Ironman/quadathalon-style event.
The Stewart family are involved with four of the entries – 2009 and 2010 winner Poquelin, Tataniano and Ghizao, all trained by Paul Nicholls, and Tatenen from Richard Rowe's stable,
Champion trainer Nicholls could also run Cristal Bonus, The Knoxs and Unioniste.
Last year's winner Quantitativeeasing, trained by Nicky Henderson, could attempt to become only the second horse to win the race two years in a row.
PAUL STEWART IronSpine CHARITY CHALLENGE GOLD CUP ENTRIES: Astracad, Bakbenscher, Calgary Bay, Carrickboy, Cristal Bonus, De Boitron, Divers, Ghizao, Golden Chieftain, Have You Seen Me, Havingotascoobydo, Hector's Choice, Hell's Bay, Hunt Ball, Imperial Shabra, Kingsmere, Menorah, Micheal Flips, Nadiya De La Vega, Notus De La Tour, Poquelin, Quantitativeeasing, Quincy Des Pictons, Quiscover Fontaine, Renard, Roberto Goldback, Romanesco, Tartak, Tataniano, Tatenen, The Knoxs, The Rainbow Hunter, Triolo D'alene, Unioniste, Walkon, Wishfull Thinking.