Friday, November 13, 2009

Cheltenham Open meeting - Paddy Power Gold Cup

The rains have started and, according to the weather forecasters, they're set to continue through Saturday, accompanied by high winds for good measure. The result is it's all change at the head of the Gold Cup market where the sponsor's offer to refund losing single stakes if a Nicholls-trained horse wins really catches the eye. Over the past couple of days there has been a strong word for Nigel Twiston-Davies' Ballyfitz who heads the market this evening - William Hill offer 13/2 while Ladbrokes go 5/1. This one stays three miles, something of an advantage in the circumstances, but his jumping let him down once or twice last season; he may be best fresh but, on balance, I'm not convinced. Tranquil Sea comes over from Ireland, will handle underfoot conditions and has come in for plenty of support during the week - he attempts to take this prize back over the Irish Sea for the first time in 29 years. Andy Stewart, owner of Tatenen, has said he thinks his horse will be suited by the ground with the result the Nicholls-trained gelding is now as low as 13/2 with some layers. I note that he hasn't raced over this trip previously and that a five-year-old hasn't won this in the last ten years, the latter fact also tempering enthusiasm for Chapoturgeon. Writing in the Weekender Alan King says of Tarotino '... he would prefer decent ground and any rain wouldn't necessarily be to his advantage.' My Petra would have been the selection had it stayed dry but Nicky Henderson's note in a recent Racing Post Stable Tour article marks our card: 'Fast ground is essential for this mare.' Poquelin is another who wants top of the ground so I'm going out on a limb and will have an each-way dabble on Tartak at 18/1. His jumping when returning to action at Aintree three short weeks ago was desperate. His handler says he's schooled well since; on the balance of his form I'm prepared to forgive that effort. If he puts his best foot forward, that price will look big.

Barizan goes in the opener and is one of the best juvenile hurdlers seen out so far this season. In my opinion he was more impressive when winning at Market Rasen on his penultimate start. The last time, when he raced over this course and distance, his hurdling was nowhere near as fluent. Trumpstoo ran a bit green at Wetherby the other day - the tissue prices him at 10/1 which would be worth a second look while Olofi could be anything. I'll probably sit this one out.

Powerstation, third in the World Hurdle last March, has found the fences getting in the way in the interim. He reverts to the smaller obstacles in the 3.10 and may have a fitness edge over a number of his rivals. Philip Hobbs' decent claimer Giles Hawkins takes a valuable seven pounds off; I'll consider an each-way wager.

A disappointing turnout of just three for the novice chase at 1.20 but I wouldn't be for taking a short price about Pettifour on his first try over fences.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

With the official going recorded as soft, heavy in places, it was no surprise to see them finish well strung out in the Paddy Power Gold Cup; Irish raider Tranquil Sea (11/2f) could be called the winner some way out. A noteworthy effort from Poquelin (12/1) on ground many (myself included) thought he wouldn't handle - he made up a lot of ground from two out to come home four and a half lengths adrift. I'd imagine, wit hthe benefit of hindsight, R. Walsh will have wished he'd made more use of the horse. Iron horse Hold Em was a gallant third while Ballyfitz (6/1) stayed on for fourth but didn't do his chance any favours with some indifferent leaps. Tartak went off at 18/1 made a couple of mistakes and was never comeptitive thereafter, finishing eighth, the last to complete. Before the start of the season, he looked a top-class prospect but now his jumping is a problem.
5/4f Barizan was beaten by Nick Williams' Pistolet Noir in the opener with 12/1 chance Olofi staying on at the one pace for third.
They went just a steady gallop in the 3.10 with the result that several were bang there with a chance two out including Powerstation. He faded coming to the final flight to finish sixth, Lie Forrit (11/4f) battling up the hill to take the honours.
Despite my reservations Pettifour (8/11f) won on his chase debut, beating Toby Jug one and a half lengths.