Man Utd legend Alex Ferguson tipped for £250,000 windfall in new 'cup final'… at Cheltenham Festival

SIR ALEX FERGUSON is being tipped to land a £250,000 windfall in a new 'cup final' – at Cheltenham Festival.

The Manchester United legend is one of the co-owners of superstar chaser Protektorat.


Trained by Dan Skelton, the seven-year-old was a devastating 25-length winner of the Grade 2 Unibet Many Clouds Chase at Aintree last December.

Former Gold Cup winner Native River had to make do with second as Fergie's horse won without breaking a sweat.

And now that romp over the three-mile trip is being viewed as perfect preparation for a tilt at the Gold Cup by one of the horse's other owners, John Hales.

The Gold Cup is one of the richest races in Britain, with last year's winner Minella Indo scooping just over £260,000.

Similar prize money will be on offer this year and Hales thinks he and Fergie, plus other owners Ged Mason and John's daughter Lisa, have a good chance of winning it.

Punters agree, with the horse already being backed from around 14-1 into 10-1.

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Hales, who earned a fortune selling Teletubbies, Thomas the Tank Engine and Basil Brush toys, told the Racing Post: "His Grade 1 win at Aintree at the end of last season was fantastic and then we stepped him up to three miles on very soft ground to see if he would get the trip, and he did it with ease.

"We have every reason to believe he'll have no problem with the course.

"He's done well at Cheltenham and all being well, we're confident he'll be able to give a good account of himself in March.

"We had to learn whether he was up to the right level. The challenge was stepping up in trip on testing ground. He came home fresh as a daisy – that's when we knew he was a Gold Cup horse.

"We haven't finalised our entries for the Festival, and I'm also keen to run horses at Aintree because the pressure is off everybody a bit then, while every race is a cup final at Cheltenham."

Fergie came close to a big celebration over Christmas when one of his other horses, Clan Des Obeaux, finished runner-up in the King George on Boxing Day.

Last April he landed a big winner with a 108-1 treble at the Grand National festival at Aintree.

In addition to Protektorat and Clan Des Obeaux, Monmiral was the other winner then.

Fergie, Hales and Mason have also entered that Paul Nicholls-trained runner in the Champion Hurdle, where Honeysuckle is the 4-5 favourite and victory this year will bring with it a cheque for around £200,000.

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