Minella Rocco Set For Long Awaited Return

Jonjo O'Neill's Minella Rocco is set to make his long awaited return on Saturday when bidding to land the Cotswald Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup runner up has not been seen on a racecourse sine his fall nearly a year to the day at Leopardstown in the Irish Gold Cup, when he took a nasty looking fall at the final fence.

The nine year old stayer as well as the Cotswald Chase, also holds an entry in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster but it looks like the more obvious approach will be to send the J P McManus trained runner to Prestbury Park.

Frank Berry, racing manager to the owner said: “Minella Rocco is in good form and the intention is to run in the Cotswold Chase.

“He is also in the Sky Bet Chase, but I would think the ground is going to be too quick for him at Doncaster. Hopefully, we will be able to get him out at Cheltenham.

“He has been ready to roll for a few weeks there now, but we have not been able to run him because of the ground.

“This looks a good opportunity to get him out and hopefully he will run well.”

Minella Rocco could end up taking on a fierce seven competitors on Saturday at jumps racing HQ with his biggest competitor looking like the Welsh Grand National winner Elegant Escape.

In recent years Tizzard has had frequent winners in this race with the last two being Thistlecrack and current holder Native River and Elegant Escape will be looking to keep this strong run going for the trainer in this race.

The highest rated horse in the race is the Paul Nicholls trained Frodon, who last time out went onto land the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup and like his Elegant Escape is hopeful of landing the big one at the festival in March.

Nicky Henderson has two possible outings on the day with the less than impressive on his seasonal return Terrefort and Valtor, both of them being owned by Isaac Souede and Simon Munir.

Harry Fry’s American and the Richard Hobson-trained Allysson Monterg complete the list.