Imperial Aura ruled out of Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham

One of the leading fancies for the Paddy Power Gold Cup, Imperial Aura, will miss the race as trainer Kim Bailey pursues other targets.

The feature handicap on November 14 would have come just 13 days after the chaser’s successful seasonal comeback at Carlisle.

The 7-1 shot with the sponsors put in a fine round of jumping in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase, his first start since winning at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Bailey is looking at Grade 2 options for the seven-year-old, who would have been just 1lb off carrying top weight at Prestbury Park.

“Imperial Aura will not be running in the Paddy Power at Cheltenham next weekend,” Bailey said.

“It is too soon after his stunning win last Sunday at Carlisle.

“There are other races for him that might suit, the Chanelle Pharma Chase at Ascot on November 21 and then there is the Fitzdares Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on December 6.”

Imperial Aura (left) competing at Cheltenham

The Venetia Williams-trained Aso heads the weights on 11st 12lb for the £130,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup, won in 2019 by Kerry Lee’s Happy Diva.

The mare (11st 5lb) bids to emulate Bradbury Star (1993, 1994) by becoming the latest back-to-back scorer.

“It was very special to see her win the Paddy Power Gold Cup and hopefully she can go close again,” Lee said.

“We are rubbing shoulders with the likes of Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson – what she has done for my career so far is phenomenal and hopefully we can create more memories at Cheltenham later this month.”

Happy Diva is 20-1 with Paddy Power in the market, which has Paul Nicholls’ Saint Sonnet as the 5-1 favourite.

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