WYE Valley trainer Venetia Williams is backing L’Homme Presse to challenge for Cheltenham’s Gold Cup this Friday, despite defeat in last month’s Grade 1 Ascot Chase.    

The King’s Caple stable star spent 391 days off the track after injury before returning in January to win the Fleur De Lys Chase at Lingfield, installing the horse among the festival favourites.

A 5 1/2L loss to Pic D’Orhy at Ascot on February 17 saw bookmakers lengthen his odds to 14-1, but Williams believes the shorter race in unfavourable conditions was ideal preparation for L’Homme Presse, which made waves winning the Brown Advisory Chase at Cheltenham in 2022.

“The ground at Ascot nearly ended up being good, which is not for L’Homme Presse, particularly when you’re coming back in trip against a Grade 1 horse whose trip and ground that very much is, so I was delighted.”  

The four-day festival runs from Tuesday with the blue riband Gold Cup at 3.30pm on Friday (March 15). 

Williams also has several other horses with chances, including Funambule Sivola for the third time in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Wednesday, March 13, 3.30pm) and Djelo in the Turners Novices’ Chase (Thursday, March 14, 1.30pm)

Funambule Sivola finished second in the Championship in 2022 behind Energumeme, while Djelo came second in the recent Grade One Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown, 

As well as L’Homme Presse’s win in the 2022 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, Venetia had a double at the 2009 Festival in the Freddie Williams Festival Plate and Pertemps Final, the same year that her horse Mon Mome won the Grand National. 

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