14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Champion Court

Martin Keighley has ruled his Festival runner-up Champion Court out of a return trip to Cheltenham for the Paddy Power Gold Cup on November 17.

Keighley revealed the news on the day the weights were released for the first major handicap of the new season, for which Grands Crus is 3-1 favourite with the sponsors having been allotted 11st 6lb. The Gloucestershire handler will also bypass the race with Havingotascoobydo.

Champion Court was runner-up to the unbeaten Sir Des Champs back in March and filled the same spot behind Silviniaco Conti at Aintree a month later. The seven-year-old has been allotted 11st 4lb but will instead run in the Amlin 1965 Chase at Ascot two weeks later.

Ascot is also likely to be the target for his stablemate, who would be out of the handicap if the top-weight Poquelin took his chance.

Keighley tweeted: "Champion Court bypasses the Paddy Power & now heads for Ascot's Amlin Chase. Havingotascoobydo also misses the PP & has options at Ascot."

David Pipe has still not decided whether to take advantage of what looks a lenient handicap mark with Grands Crus or start his season off at the highest level in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.

Paul Nicholls has eight entries in total which include his impressive Down Royal winner Cristal Bonus (11st 6lb) and Grade One winner Al Ferof (11st 8lb). For Non Stop created plenty of interest when he waltzed away with the Old Roan Chase but his task has been made harder having been allotted 11st 11lb.

Hunt Ball was the success story of last season and he will carry 11st 6lb for Keiran Burke. Micheal Flips is an interesting contender for Andy Turnell with just 10st 8lb on his back and the former jockey was happy with his charge after finishing fifth at Ascot on Saturday.

Turnell said: "I thought that he ran all right at Ascot on Saturday - he was carrying a lot of weight and the trip was a bit sharp for him. He will be better for the run and it should put him spot-on for Cheltenham.

"His good form last season was very good. His second to For Non Stop looks very good now and he seemed to run consistently well without setting the world alight. He made one error with his jumping on Saturday but he jumped pretty well otherwise and he seems more confident over his fences now."

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