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Brian Connell takes over on Last Instalment in Gold Cup

Bryan Cooper will miss the ride on Last Instalment in the Cheltenham Gold Cup after suffering a double fracture to his right leg in a fall on Wednesday. Gigginstown House Stud’s retained rider suffered a fracture to the same leg at Down Royal last May and was side-lined for three months.

Brian O’Connell, who was on board Last Instalment at Leopardstown in the Hennessy, will ride the Gold Cup third favourite on Friday. Philip Fenton’s nine-year-old has been well backed since returning to his best with an impressive eight and a half-length victory over Tidal Bay.

David Casey has been booked to ride Gigginstown’s First Lieutenant in the same race with the horse having been switched from the Ryanair Chase. Connell has also taken over on Rule The World today in the World Hurdle.

Rathlin will now be ridden by Casey in the Ryanair with Davy Russell on Mozoltov in the JLT Novices’ Chase. Cooper fractured his right tibia and fibula after Gordon Elliott’s Clarcam crashed out of the Fred Winter Hurdle.

Russell was replaced by Cooper as principal rider for Gigginstown at the end of last year after a successful association that included Cheltenham victories on Weapon’s Amnesty and First Lieutenant. The latter is expected to run well in the Gold Cup with the drying ground in his favour.

Punters who backed Last Instalment after his Hennessy victory still face an anxious wait to find out whether he will take his chance in the Gold Cup. The gelding was off the course for almost two years with leg injuries and connections are reluctant to risk him on a fast surface.

A maximum field of 14 will line up for the big race tomorrow at 3.20. Bobs Worth remains a strong favourite to repeat last year’s victory at 7-4 with Silviniaco Conti second favourite at 3-1. Nicky Henderson celebrated his 51st festival winner with Whisper in the Coral Cup yesterday but Paul Nicholls is yet to hit the target this week.