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RACING: Charlie chipper
Chipping Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon believes Paintball is showing all the right signs as he prepares to defend his Paddy Power Imperial Cup crown at Sandown on Saturday.
The six-year-old sprang a 20-1 surprise in the extended two-mile handicap hurdle under Noel Fehily last year, sprinting up the hill to beat Nampour by four and a half lengths.
He then missed out on a crack at a £75,000 bonus for winning at the Cheltenham Festival when he was ruled out of the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle with a bruised foot.
Paintball then finished unpla-ced at Aintree and Haydock, and has finished last on his three outings.
However, Longsdon is hoping a further breathing operation will help him get back to his best.
“We’ve given him another wind-op and I hope that will help,” he said. “He’s only 1lb higher than when he won it last year and he’s beginning to work like a really nice horse again.”
Longsdon, whose string has returned to form in the past week with 14-1 winners Great’s Autrechene at Leicester and Kellys Brown at Ludlow, is looking at a team of around eight runners at next week’s Cheltenham Festival.
Pendra heads his line-up, and Longsdon feels the Coral Cup would suit the five-year-old best out of his three entries.
“AP (McCoy) has been and ridden him and he likes him,” he said. “I think he’s my best chance of the week.”
Longsdon’s squad is also set to include Ely Brown, Superior Qua-lity, Frisco Depot, Vulcanite and Hazy Tom.