Saturday 12th November
Placespotter - Cheltenham 2.15 Paddy Power Gold Cup - G3 C1 - 2 miles 4 furlongs - 20 run - Good to Soft
This race was won from the front last year by Coole Cody who reappears off 4lbs higher this time and in the past has tended to be dominated by progressive second season Chasers many of whom have arrived without a prep run and some a little off the radar. I've never really seen it as a Festival pointer as it's a hell of a long time to keep a progressive type at peak and off a nice mark, so very much view it as a race many of the bigger Yards will target for the current season and may be view as a stepping stone to the Festival in the following season, not the Spring of next year necessarily.
That said, it is also a race that some have built nice place sequences in as they get older and don't necessarily step up in trip as many Chasers do as they get more mature in terms of age and experience.
There is always too a trend that if a race is won and run from the front for a few years that they can all go off too fast, and the evidence from yesterday over the Old Course and on this genuinely perfect Going is that you can come from off the pace if the early speed is just a yard too fast.
I narrowed the 20 runners down to an initial list of around 12 so let's whittle them down.
I did look at Aso for a few minutes at a massive price but just think the horse is not up to this type of race any more and conditions are not really ideal any way. Belargus for Nick Gifford will be winning races and worth following for sure, I can understand why they have a tilt here but I think best right handed and certainly worth tracking round the M25 tracks over the Christmas period. Nietzsche has been tipped up by a few that I very much respect, it's had a flat run and has Course form over Hurdles but it really would flout just about every trend of this race if it won here. Dostal Phil could be a progressive horse and definitely one to track but the Hobbs yard has yet to really fire and I am just not sure if Cheltenham is the optimum Course for a horse I think better suited to tracks like Ascot and Sandown possibly. Galahad Quest is the one I found hardest to analyse and quantify, a true "dark horse" and for that reason I will have a very small shrapnel bet on it. It;s race fit, a Course winner and a Distance winner, looks progressive and I just can't make my mind up though if this is a year too soon. Definitely a horse to track though.
If we delve deeper the next few off the list but closer to the final selections include, Al Dancer, 3rd in this in 2020, it's moved stables and is very short in the market I feel and for that reason of "VALUE" I will leave it out for today. Coole Cody I've touched upon, I'm sure a bold run will happen but I'd be surprised if lightning strikes twice today. Lalor has moved to PFN in the past few months, it will be interesting to see if he can refresh and recharge the horse but he himself has explained that it can take horses a while to acclimatise to his methods so a watching brief today for me.
I'm left with 4 off my initial list and in order of preference and staking.
I'll have TIPS on MIDNIGHT SHADOW who has had a nice prep run, has excellent Course form and from a Yard with few peers when it comes to optimising the ability of a genuinely good horse. I can't find any reasons why it should not be bang in contention here with luck in running.
Similarly I really rate the chances of MANOFTHEMOUNTAIN for Emma Lavelle. A Course winner, a winner at the Distance, has had a nice prep run, should be spot on fitness wise and off a nice mark on ideal ground.
I'll have a Tracker bet too on SIMPLY THE BETTS another who has changed stables and gone to PFN. Off for a year, the Trainer is a bit more bullish about this one and it showed excellent form prior to the lay off, if anyone can weave magic it's Nicholls and we'll take a chance on that basis.
I mentioned a small interest in Galahad Quest if you want it and there is another who I just can't leave out, more heart than head may be but a look at the Course form of SPIRITOFTHEGAMES suggests that if they do go off at a kamikaze pace and the race does come back to the field, certainly he's a horse who knows how to get up the hill and could run an enhanced place at big Odds.
TIPS - Midnight Shadow + Manofthemountain / TRACKER - Simply The Betts (see notes re shrapnel on Spiritofthegames / Galahad Quest at punters discretion)
Placespotter - Punchestown 2.58 - Handicap Hurdle - 3 miles - 21 run - Good to Yielding
Glenquin Castle goes for a 7 timer, quite incredible consistency over Fences and Hurdles but the margins have been decreasing and the Handicapper may finally have caught up.
It would be easy, logical and possibly most sensible to look at Humps And Bumps and Roped In who it narrowly bat last time and automatically think they will prevail today, but it's not hard to question how much that form is going to necessarily be relevant again and a few others do appeal more today.
Bright Sunbird has shown glimmers of form but the trip of 3 miles is a niggle for me. Endlessly runs for an in form yard but takes a big leap up in trip and is basically an ex Flat horse in terms of pedigree. Final Orders has a solid each way chance and would be no surprise to see in the money but just missed the final selections. Rose of Tusker may just need this run but if fit would be a big danger and is one I will definitely be tipping at some point I'm sure. Finally, Some Venture is race fit and has a decent race in it but I can't quite work out the optimum trip at the moment for this one.
My money will be on, RULER OF DUBAI who is very consistent, placed recently off marks of 91 and 93 and has to be in with a great shout if running to that kind of mark once again here. LADY L'EROM does have collateral form with the favourite and Humps And Bumps and Roped In; and off a low weight over it's ideal trip and conditions looks the most overpriced and likely one to come out of that recent race. It's the value that tips this one for me. Finally, I can't leave out STOCKDALE who is a Course winner, fit and ready to run a big race I'm sure here and whose last run had me reaching for the Tracker.
TIP - Ruler Of Dubai / Trackers - Lady L'Erom + Stockdale