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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Tidal Bay to miss HennessyHeadlines
Tidal Bay

Tidal Bay will head straight to next month's Cheltenham Festival after trainer Paul Nicholls scratched him from the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Saturday.

The rejuvenated 12-year-old, a last-gasp winner of the Lexus Chase over the course and distance over Christmas, had to miss the Argento Chase at Cheltenham last month after suffering a slight setback.

Nicholls had hoped his veteran would be ready to return to Ireland next weekend, but the trainer is now concentrating on preparing Graham Wylie's highly talented but quirky performer for either the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup or the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

"I have scratched Tidal Bay from the Irish Hennessy next Saturday, as he won't be ready in time," Nicholls told www.betfair.com.

"He missed the Argento as he was slightly lame. He is fine now, but I am not going to rush him.

"He will go straight to the Festival, and we will make a decision on what race he contests there nearer the time, when we have a better idea on the ground."

Nicholls does plan, however, to have a strong hand at Newbury's important meeting on Saturday, when the team will include Unioniste, who has not run since winning the Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Challenge Gold Cup at Cheltenham in mid-December.

"I have spoken to John Hales (owner) this morning, and we plan to run Unioniste in the three-mile novice chase on the Betfair Super Saturday card at Newbury on February 9," said Nicholls.

"We won the race with Denman - who is due to parade next Saturday - before his win in the Sun Alliance in 2007 and this will tell us more about what Festival route to go down with Unioniste.

"Silviniaco Conti is on schedule to run in the Denman Chase and I will also be confirming three for the Betfair Hurdle - Pearl Swan, Dark Lover and Caid Du Berlais."

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