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Cheltenham Gold Cup Ante-post Preview

We're not even out of 2012 yet many are already looking ahead at Cheltenham. After a couple of big trials this week, regular blog contributor Jon da Silva (@creamontop) believes it's time to take a thorough look at the Gold Cup.

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Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview

The Main Event


75 days to go but yesterday’s exciting finish to the Lexus means we can start contemplating the Cheltenham Gold Cup. There are still three major trial races to come The Irish Hennessy Gold Cup, Argento at Cheltenham and the three mile race at Newbury. However take the trial at Newbury last year won by Long Run giving weight yet the 2nd to 4th at Cheltenham reversed position. Trials are trials but the King George and Lexus are arguably targets and more formful. Hence I believe we have injuries excepted 90% of the on track info. Almost all horses at the top of the market will aim to run in the race.

Main Contenders

Bobs Worth 3/1 and a pretty solid favourite. Appears bullet proof and loves Cheltenham. Possibly on faster ground could be tapped for toe but to win at Newbury even in a Hennessy dominated by staying types shows some pace and beating Cue Card prior over 20 furlongs there was no fluke. We may assign defeats to Grand Crus and Invictus to his breathing or going right handed or irrelevance. At 3/1 a fair price.

Sir Des Champs 7/1 has gone the opposite way to Bobs Worth in the market but essentially has not been disgraced. Sure he looks slower and appears error prone but his wins at Cheltenham were not devoid of pace and we can hope better ground equals better jumping better travelling in the race. I don’t think his chance is less than when the season started even if his odds of being a superstar are less.

Silviniaco Conti 7/1 Dominated Long Run and appears to win whenever stamina is needed or at least that’s my view of his form. Should like Cheltenham but has never faced a field of more than 7 over fences. Also beaten badly by Invictus. Doubtful he’ll be allowed his own way upfront and a possible four months off a risk even for a best fresh type. Beating The Giant Bolster 7L on a flat track like Haydock is also questionable but more on that later.

Long Run 7/1 I confess I hoped he’d shorten but bookies and punters aren't fooled as he barely beat Captain Chris a 25s shot here. I've no issue with the rider as it’s factored in his form/price. I think he’s slipping and even a change of jockey would just improve odds on more progressive types.

Tidal Bay 12/1 has plenty of other targets. I’d rather 6/1 knowing he has the ground to suit and is going to run. Could take in the World Hurdle or the National to boot.

First Lieutenant 14/1 Whilst stamina is not always easy to call he has lost the Hennessy, RSA and now the Lexus late. Will like better ground and improves through the season but run out by Bobs Worth last year and has 2 extra furlongs this year. Possibly nailed on to be thereabouts without winning. I did like how he rated much better in the Lexus than the Hennessy where a lot of use was made of him. Not quite.

The Rest

Flemenstar has the class and most of Flemensfirth's best stay such as Tidal Bay, Pandorama, Time for Rupert and Imperial Commander. Albeit three of those like some cut as well. However he has other races, looked a non stayer in the Lexus, avoided Cheltenham so far and his good ground win was 15 seconds slower than standard. At 14/1 I can ignore without knowing if he runs.

Captain Chris 25/1 is apparently best right handed and it's unclear what he accomplished at Kempton. He's an Arkle winner and it appears has no choice but handicaps or go left handed for the Gold Cup. I'd not write him off totally but equally think there'll be one or two better.

Only one outsider attracts me, assuming Last Instalment and Weapon’s Amnesty are not physically able, The Giant Bolster and he just ran a shocker at Kempton. However compare his flat track runs with his Cheltenham runs. His Neptune prep was 3rd on heavy ground in a Hereford Class 4 btn 16L by Ravenclaw which he followed up with a 6th btn 7L by Peddlers Cross in the Neptune on Good – then beaten 17 lengths on the flat track Aintree Grade 1 by Wayward Prince. In the Gold Cup he was 2nd ahead of Burton Port and Long Run who beat him 11+L and Long Run gave him 10lb at Newbury prior. He did not feature in an appalling Hennessy off 10st 4lb (same weight as Carruthers who beat him 15L). Between those runs over 21F at Cheltenham he turned a handicap into a 17L procession, off 143 accepted. At Cheltenham over fences he’s F1UU12 so getting round an issue but his form there is significantly better than elsewhere. In context of the rest of his form his Betfair Chase was encouraging. I am prepared to ignore Kempton if connections make it clear he has no ailment by entering him in trials.

And Finally

My strategy is a bet on Sir Des Champs and to back The Giant Bolster for the Argento if the ground is better than Heavy and Gold Cup if he goes that route. Otherwise expect a poor’un at Newbury and back him for the Gold Cup when confirmed after that at hopefully somewhere near his 66/1 last year.

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