Originally known as The Massey Ferguson Gold Cup. It was first run in 1963, and without doubt, it’s most famous winner was the awesome Flyingbolt, who won in 1965. Trained by the legendary Tom Dreaper, and ridden by Pat Taffe, and giving away at least 25lbs, to a field of top class handicappers, he annihilated the field, strolling home by 15L from Solbina with Scottish Memories third. As Scottish Memories had previously run the mighty Arkle close ( albeit receiving lumps of weight ) Flyingbolt ended the season rated within 1lb of the legend. While there is no Flyingbolt running on Saturday it has the look of a very competitive affair.
The Paul Nicholls trained Caid Du Berlais heads the market at 4/1. The 5yo Westerner gelding was something of a revelation, when under an inspired ride from Sam Twiston-Davies, he got up in the final strides to land the Paddy Power Gold Cup three weeks ago, beating Johns Spirit a hd. Racing there off a mark of 143 he was receiving 13lbs from the runner up who has declined a rematch, in favour of the King George V1 on Boxing Day. While the Paddy Power was a slowly run race on soft ground, and Saturday’s conditions promise to be quite different, Caid Du Berlais does look well treated off 148. He acheived a hurdles rating of 151, and may well be even better suited by Saturday’s likely conditions, so one for the short list.
From four course appearances the Malcolm Jefferson trained Attaglance has won once and been placed twice, so is of considerable interest. In last years Paddy Power, despite blundering at the last, he was a fine 4th to Johns Spirit receiving 2lbs, and further emphasised his affinity for the course when a very unlucky 2nd at the festival in March to Present View. Indeed a reproduction of that run would give him a great chance on Saturday.
David Bridgewater, with some justification, is very bullish about the chances of his young chaser No Buts. Already a much better chaser than hurdler he made his reappearance at Sandown at the beginning of November. In an intriguing race he finished 4th to the Nicholls horse Sound Investment, ( for whom there has been some support for Saturday ) with the Evan Williams trained Barrakilla in 3rd. Five and a half lengths behind Sound Investment at Sandown, No Buts emphatically reversed the form at Newbury three weeks later coming home 8L clear of the Nicholls animal. He is a rapidly improving horse who jumps well, so despite a 10lb rise must have a serious chance at the weekend.
Barrakilla definitley comes into the picture on his form with Sound Investment and No Buts in the Sandown race, as not only does he enjoy a considerable turn around in the weights but considerable improvement can be expected,as it was his first run for nearly 11 months. In his previous race, at Warwick ( always a good test of jumping ) he had comfortably seen off the very useful Presian Snow in only his third chase. He is another on an upward curve who looks well treated off 135 giving him a nice racing weight of 10st 12lbs.
Nicky Henderson’s Ericht, who won with Quantitive Easing in 2011 is worth a second look. He ran a solid race on his reappearance at the course in October finishing 3rd to John’s Spirit, and was going well enough in the Paddy Power, until making a mistake at the second last. However it does have to be said that none of his previous course appearances have suggested a particular aptitude for the place, and his overall record hints at a preference for a flat track.
Kim Bailey’s 8yo Darna, who has won four of his seven chase starts looks interesting. Having his first run for nearly two years he hosed up in a class 3 at Sedgefield three weeks ago of a mark of 134. With the stable enjoying such a good season this lightly raced animal may well have further improvement in him and it would be no surprise to see him involved at the business end.