bet365 Gold Cup Chase 3m5f Sandown Saturday – I hope you backed last week’s selection, Vicente, in the Scottish Grand National. What a great race he ran, always travelling comfortably, just off the pace, he stayed on really strongly to outstay Alvarado and See You At Midnight and won with something in hand at the rewarding odds of 14/1. Only seven, he is going to be a force in staying chases next season, and is one to bear in mind come Aintree in April. Our E.W. selection, Royale Knight, also ran a cracker and looked a possible winner approaching the second last, but could only run on at one pace to hold onto 4th place at odds of 20/1 in the 28 runner field. All in all a very satisfactory result! Saturday’s contest looks just as difficult a puzzle to solve but here are some suggestions.
Peter Bowen’s 8yo, Henri Parry Morgan has only run 5 times over fences, and having finished last in the first of them, he got rid of his jockey in the second. However his last three runs have been much more promising, winning easily at Chepstow (2m7 1/2f) at the end of Febuary off a mark of 122, and then trotting up at Uttoxeter three weeks later in a very good time for the conditions, off a 13lbs higher mark. Last time he took a step up in class when finishing a good second in a Grade1 3m chase at Aintree where he had the talented Blaklion 3 1/2l back in third. He is clearly an animal on the up, and as his dam is by that great influence for stamina, Over The River, even more can be expected tackling Saturday’s trip. Although up 14lbs since his Uttoxeter,stroll in the park, he is well worth considering.
Neill Mulholland has three entered at the time of writing and two of them, Carole ‘s Destrier, and The Young Master are of definite interest. The former has had a very light season having run only three times since last April, and put up a very telling performance in the second of them, when registering a comfortable course and distance victory last December off a mark of 146 under Noel Fehilly. His talented trainer has only run him once since, avoiding the heavy winter ground, (p/u at the festival) and arrives here a well handicapped (151) and fresh horse. One for the short list!
His stable companion The Young Master had the 2014 Badger Ales trophy taken off him due to a technicality but went on to win an Ascot handicap off a mark of 144 the following month. He hasn’t hit the back of the net since but did finish a staying on 3rd at the festival, (3m1f) albeit beaten 16L. He won a 3m3f heavy ground hurdle race as a 5yo so could be well suited by Saturday’s trip and off a mark of 148 looks well treated. Presumably he will be ridden by his part owner, the very useful 3lbs claiming amateur R. Waley-Cohen, giving him a nice racing weight of 10st 12lbs. Well suited by a right hand track he has plenty to recommend him.
With Nicholls and Mullins going head to head for the trainers championship the outcome of Saturday’s contest could be of huge significance, and at the time of writing they account for seven of the weekend contenders between them. Nicholls best chance would seem to lie with the 8yo Southfield Theatre who races off a mark of 150, and if successful would give the Ditcheat handler his fifth success in the race. This time last year he looked an animal going places with three chase victories and a second to Don Poli in the RSA to his credit, but this season things haven’t gone to plan. He was sent off a 7/2 chance in a three runner affair at Sandown in November, but after a poor round of jumping finished a remote last, 44L behind Coneygree. He again finished last in his next race, this time 56L behind Don Poli at Aintree in December. He was making some progress last time when brought down at the Festival, and perhaps Master Trainer Nicholls has worked the Oracle and it’s possible we will see a much better performance on Saturday. However it is still hard to understand why the bookmakers have made him favourite and is impossible to recommend.
The Irish record in this isn’t great with only three victories in the last twenty years, but anything Willie Mullins runs has to be taken seriously and his 10yo Sir Des Champs would be of interest if turning up. This triple Grade1 winner fell at the Chair in the National but wouldn’t have found the soft ground ideal. He has won five of his seven races going right handed, is not badly handicapped and on what is likely to be decent ground at the weekend could easily outrun his odds of 25/1.
Selection : The Young Master
E.W. : Sir Des Champs (if abs) Carole’s Destrier