Good morning all,
A small but select field for this year's renewal of the Haldon Gold Cup, but with just five points covering the whole field in the market it shows how open it is. My thoughts and selection for the race on the main piece.
Just the six will go to post for the Haldon Gold Cup at 2.10 but all six have their plus points and their negatives. Let's have a look at all six in betting order –
Destrier has been installed 3-1 favourite, which I find a little surprising. I get the fact he's less exposed than most of these, and as a second-season novice getting a bit of weight, makes some appeal, but to me he looks a horse that wants a bare 2. So how he will cope going almost 18f on soft ground is rather open to question, to me anyway. His third in the Maghull at Aintree is clearly decent form but on what he achieved in two wins before that at Southwell and Ayr, he looks short enough to me.
Dolos is a bit more interesting. It feels like he's been around for ages but in fact is only 6, so might even have a little more improvement left in him this year. His record after a break is fine, he handles most ground and seems happiest going right-handed. He can hump big weights in handicaps too, as he showed when beating Gino Trail at Sandown last year. He seems best coming off a strong pace, so will want Charbel to make it a solid test, but for me, he'd be favourite to win this.
Janika did nothing but improve last year, often travelling strongly through his races, only to find one too good in quality handicaps at Cheltenham, twice. He carried big weights on both occasions too, and he really does look a quality performer. The concern might be the drop back to 2m, but so strongly does he travel that it might even be considered a positive. With the ground no issue either, he looks a player.
Lalor was made favourite for the Arkle off the back of an impressive win at Cheltenham last November, where he looked a natural at the game, but it all rather unravelled for him after that and despite the fact he went to the Arkle a fresh horse, which should have helped, he was well beaten. He was similarly disappointing at Aintree and starts off this year with plenty to prove. It might be that first time up is the time to catch him and there's no doubting he's on a winning mark, but soft ground isn't really his thing either, and there are enough reasons to oppose him.
Charbel is another with his wellbeing to prove after a disappointing effort at Chepstow last month, but we know he's a classy performer when on song – his Peterborough Chase win last year (beat God's Own, who is 3lb better here) showed that, but those days are seemingly becoming few and far between now. Maybe the fact he's back on a flat track will help, and he did come on plenty for a run last year, but others make a little more appeal.
And so to God's Own. He's been there, done that and got numerous Grade 1 t-shirts in his racing career and even at the age of 11, still shows plenty of enthusiasm for the game. This will no doubt be one of his targets this year, given his record in the race already (two wins) and the fact he goes well fresh, but the worry might be the soft ground, which has never really been his preferred surface. If it dried a bit overnight, and it was no worse than good to soft, he might get away with it. And Tom George has his team in excellent form too. He's quality, and that alone deserves respect.
This is so tricky. I wrote the preview yesterday but had no idea what would win, and I still think it's a watching rather than betting race this morning. Destrier was the one I thought was the wrong price – I'd have him nearer 5-1 than 3-1, and he is on the drift this morning. The 15-2 God's Own looks fair enough given the yard form and his track record in the race, but Janika could have a bucketload of improvement to come this term and the more I think about the drop back to 2m, the more it appeals. The 7-2 around in a couple of places looks fair enough, and that's where my fiver will go.
Good luck with all your bets today,