Good morning all,
Really enjoyable night at the LRC Preview last night and hello to whoever it was that came up and said how much they enjoyed reading the Punt everyday – much appreciated! Some interesting shouts form the panel too, not least Matt Tombs' Douvan NRNB for the Ryanair. It makes some sense and I've had a go this morning.
Last of the big race previews then, and it's Gold Cup time. Plus a selection from Sandown on one of the Military Gold Cup days.
I’ve deliberately left the Gold Cup until last. Not because it’s the biggest race of the week, but mainly because I haven’t got a clue what wins it.
See, that’s another problem with ante-post punting. Once my long-term fancy for this, Blaklion, came out, not only do I lose a little bit of interest in the race from a betting perspective, you have to start again and look at the race through fresh eyes. And twice this week I’ve stared at a blank sheet of paper, wondering where to even begin. Oh well, here goes…
I suppose we start with the favourite, everyone’s favourite crackpot chaser, Might Bite. Okay, I’m being a bit flippant there but he’s clearly not the full ticket and even his trainer says he doesn’t know what he’s going to do next week.
But let’s look at the facts. He would have won the RSA last year by a bus ride had he stayed straight, and had the race put to bed a long, long way out. Whatever his foibles, that was one mighty impressive performance, but for the party tricks on the run in. He jumps quickly and accurately, stays very well. Since then he’s won the King George by a diminishing length, on the face of it, unimpressively, but as I said at the time, I think Might Bite will just try and beat whatever’s put in front of him by doing enough, and not much more. It was interesting to hear Tom George say last week that he thought Double Shuffle was a 160+ horse, and he would know, having had God’s Own go through his hands. That would make the King George performance much more believable, and to my way of thinking, Might Bite is a worthy favourite, and, quirks or not, could simply be better class than these.
Native River, my fancy for last year, at least looks like getting his ground this time around, which will help his cause. Actually, it’s not so much he needs soft to perform, but it does just slow the others down a step, which gives him chance to organise himself that bit better. My faith in the Tizzards being able to get one ready for a big day is waning, but his third last year (in an arguably more competitive event than this is) is a good piece of form. It’s a question of whether he “bounces” after that Newbury run, and that’s a big question in my eyes.
Last year’s winner Sizing John has only been seen twice this season, and blew out badly when last seen in the Christmas Chase. I’ve seen it said that if he’d not turned up at Leopardstown he’d be a 6/4 chance to win this, but equally if my aunty had balls she’d be my uncle. It’s a run that’s hard to gloss over, it happened, and although the reports coming from the yard are a little more positive, I can’t have him off such a poor effort. (Update – this no longer applies after last night’s news, he misses the Gold Cup with a fractured pelvis).
Stablemate Our Duke seemed to get himself back on track at Gowran last time, but even that form has two “reads” about it. The key to him seems to be getting in a rhythm early on, and if that can be achieved, then I think, taking a positive reading of the Gowran form, he could be the best of the Irish. But it’s not hard to see that, like many here, he comes with risks and questions attached. It’s simply too hard to be totally positive about anything.
And speaking of jumping, can Kiltullagh Vic put a clear round in? His chase starts so far are simply littered with mistakes, even when not under a great deal of pressure. We have seen horses that aren’t the greatest jumpers win this through stamina alone, but it’s simply too big a worry for me.
Definitly Red shook off a couple of poor runs around Cheltenham with his gutsy win in the Cotswold. Stamina in abundance, once he turned for home there you knew he’d grind it out. Has he quite got the class for this? Again, we’ve seen horses make up for that lack of class with stamina, so he’s hard to rule out on that. In fact, he has less question marks than a few, comes into this off the back of a solid win, and despite the trainers assertions that he will be better on good ground, the available evidence says he’ll be just dandy on soft. I’m starting to warm to his chances a bit, and maybe he’s the one that’s just a bit overpriced.
There’s not much among the rest that make a lot of appeal – soft ground would probably spanner the chance of the enigmatic Minella Rocco, Cue Card goes Ryanair anyway, Edwulf – well, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when he won the Irish Gold Cup but that form isn’t good enough to win this, I don’t believe. There’s a case to be argues he’s a bit overpriced, but all the same, I don’t think he will win.
I wonder whether connections are toying with supplementing the talented American with all the rain? If it’s a mudbath, he has hopes of hitting the frame, but connections are taking a right risk shelling the money out in the hope it chucks down all week. Still, stranger things have happened….
Over to Sandown then, and when the entries came out for the 2.30 it was no surprise to see old Kasthani Beach entered up in the handicap hurdle at 2.30. That's because this is always one of his targets for the season – five times he's appeared in this race, winning it once and second four times – and off such a lowly mark today there's every chance of him making it two wins. He's hard work at times and got two ways of going, but this place seems to bring out the best in him and if he can build on his Plumpton effort last time (not beaten far) then he must have a solid chance here.
Today's selection – Kasthani Beach 2.30 Sandown
Good luck with all your bets today,