Cheltenham Festival news: The Real Whacker still not out of Gold Cup picture

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The promising seven-year-old has won both his starts over fences and crucially both victories have come at Cheltenham this term. In November, he won a five-runner novices' chase over an extended three miles when partnered by Gavin Sheehan and, on New Year's Day, followed up in the Grade Two Dipper over an extended two and a half miles, this time ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies. The Real Whacker took the scalp of Grade One winner Monmiral in the latter race and is now a general 9/2 third favourite for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase on Wednesday. However, Neville has not ruled out a tilt at Friday's Gold Cup, for which he is a 50/1 shot. The Irishman, who trains at Leyburn in North Yorkshire, said: "The horse is in super form - we couldn't be happier with him. "We are, at the moment, probably going to the Brown Advisory, but we will make a decision at the weekend, as there is another stage for the Gold Cup on Saturday.

"We're just hanging in there. It is tempting, but we will wait and see. I think there will be a few who will come out of it because of the ground." Neville spent almost two years as assistant trainer to Ann Duffield and was a key player in N'Golo's Swinton Hurdle success last May. The trainer has had seven winners from 39 runners in his own name since taking out his licence in November and is eager to get back to Prestbury Park. "It was great to take on the big boys and beat them there," added Neville. "It is great to have a horse like that going there. He stays well and he's not short of speed either. His jumping is unbelievable. "Everything has gone great since his last run. He is lightly raced and physically he has improved a bit, even from his New Year's Day run - he's getting stronger. "He will probably go for the novice chase this year and then hopefully, if we get back next year, we will have a go at the Gold Cup, as then he would have more experience under his belt. "We are leaning that way, but we'll keep it open for another few days and dream away."

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