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Paddy Power Gold Cup preview

Top racing at Cheltenham this weekend, now we really get into the quality meetings you should be taking notice of along the way to the Festivals.

Chris Day, @chrisday100 steps up to analyse the headline event, the Paddy Power Gold Cup.

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Paddy Power Gold Cup
14:30 Cheltenham
Grade 3, 2m 4.5f Chase


The Paddy Power Gold Cup traditionally kicks off a series of big Saturday chases in the run up to Christmas and, as one of the races which originally got me hooked on racing in the mid-80s when run under the guise of the Mackeson Gold Cup, holds a special place as I’m sure it does for many.

Barely can I ever remember a horse with no worthwhile Cheltenham form winning it and the big Southern stables have monopolised it in recent times.

Heading the weights are Oscar Whiskey and John’s Spirit, representing two of the pre-eminent stables of Nicky Henderson and Jonjo O’Neill yet both have taken notably different paths to their current marks. The former was a high class hurdler who may struggle to jump fences fluently enough to hold his place in such a big field but is undeniably well in if he does.

John’s Spirit, on the other hand, is a specialist over course and distance having won the race last year and the one over course and distance at the Showcase Meeting for the last two years. He’s up another 9lbs for his last victory but he was barely asked a question in that contest and, although he probably has to be a Ryanair horse to win this, I’m not sure he isn’t and he’s on my shortlist, admittedly as a horse who owes me nothing.

In last year’s race, Easter Meteor was in the process of running a great race when coming down two fences out and gets a useful pull with the winner. Transferred to David Pipe, I could see him going well but it is questionable if the trip in the ground will see him in his best light.

Cantlow, on the other hand, should be in his elements and will need every yard of the trip having stayed on well for second in last year’s December Gold Cup which means he is arguably the pick of the weights and, from four runs in big fields at Cheltenham, he has finished third of 24 in a Pertemps Final and second of 13 in the aforementioned contest. I can certainly see him staying on very strongly if able to hold his position in the first mile.

Attaglance probably needs quicker ground but deserves to win something like this, Persian Snow looks slightly to have it to do on festival form but may have improved and ran a solid trial behind John’s Spirit last time and Indian Castle is only 5lbs higher than his victory here on Trials Day last year and has since left Donald McCain for Ian Williams. Could he be Ile De re in reverse?

The two at the top of the market appear to have very strong credentials, Present View having won the novice handicap chase at the festival and shown he is in top form with an excellent second in a novice hurdle over the track in October. He looks nailed on to be in at the finish but the one I like best was only fifth behind him at the festival having blundered his chance away at at least four fences but, in the belief that Evan Williams will have worked on this deficiency in the summer, I reckon Buywise has significant upside from a mark of 146. He returned to Cheltenham in April and won a chase over course and distance despite not being too fluent at his fences and he beat a classy flat recruit of Nicky Henderson’s on his seasonal debut over hurdles this time around.

The softening of the ground should suit him ideally and, in Paul Moloney he has the perfect jockey to finesse him round and creep into the race in the last half mile.

I’d back him (Buywise) for win purposes and John’s Spirit and Cantlow each way with Indian Castle for forecast and tricast purposes in the belief that all will be ideally suited to very testing ground.

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