Friday, November 16, 2012

Paddy Power Gold Cup 2012

Tomorrow's highlight on the second day of the Open meeting is the Paddy Power Gold Cup (2.35) in which 19 are set to face the starter with Tanks For That declared a non-runner. Paul Nicholls saddles three; Walsh rides Al Ferof while Poquelin stands his ground which means four at the foot of the handicap have to carry more than their long handicap weight - the booking of the in-form Aidan Coleman for Questions Answered catches the eye.

The Pipe yard has a phenomenal record in this race. Martin has won eight runnings while son David chalked up his first success last year with Great Endeavour - it's no surprise to see Grands Crus, the yard's entry this year, at the head the market. In the past decade six of the winners have come from the top three in the market and three of those were sent off favourite.

Hunt Ball is a remarkable beast. Last November the gelding won a Class 5 handicap chase at Folkestone off a mark of 68; four months later he landed the Pulteney Land Investments Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival off a rating of 142. Owner Mr Anthony Knott has been bullish in the build-up to this and has already backed his charge to win next March's Cheltenham Gold Cup to take £1 million out of the ring.

Nicky Henderson fields an interesting trio. McCoy rides the J P McManus owned mare Nadiya De La Vega in preference to Quantitativeasing while Geraghty is aboard the five-year-old Triolo D'Alene; since the race's inception in 1960 only one five-year-old has come home in front - Cyfor Malta in 1998. At Haydock's festival preview evening last March the handler put Triolo up as his best chance for the meeting - in the event the chestnut gelding finished well beaten by Hunt Ball but I'm guessing connections still hold this one in high regard and the layers don't appear to be taking too many chances by going as low as 10/1 in places.

I've always found Alan King's Walkon difficult to catch right but the grey has a racing weight, goes well fresh and writing in the Weekender the trainer rates his charge '...the best chance I have ever had of adding this great autumn contest to our cv.'

To this observer this renewal looks more competitive than the market might initially sugggest.

One hesitates to admit to having read Clare Balding's My Animals and Other Family but as a result I happen to know that Clare's English tutor at Newnham College, Cambridge would not be pleased to see me use the phrase 'the thing is' but, although Grands Crus may be the percentage call, the thing is the horse doesn't represent value and I still have a picture in my mind of the grey appearing to be bullied out of it three from home in the RSA last March. I'll chance Hunt Ball to collect the spoils (15/2 Stan James) and take out an each-way saver on Nadiya De La Vega (16/1 Coral, William Hill).

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

A one horse book with Grands Crus sent off 7/4 favourite. Overnight rain saw the going changed to soft, good to soft in places in the morning and then changed to soft, heavy in places after this race with just six managing to complete the course.

The omens weren't good for selection Hunt Ball (9/1) with owner Anthony Knott admitting just before the off that the ground had gone against his horse; in the event Hunt Ball struggled to pick up from mid-division four out and was pulled up two from home.

Fortunately the insurance paid out - McCoy had Nadiya De La Vega (12/1) up with the pace throughout. The mare couldn't go with the two principals, Al Ferof and Walkon, as they rounded the home turn but she plugged on for third, beaten some 15 lengths.

Once again Grands Crus disappointed at this track; it was reported the gelding had lost a shoe during the race but that was not offered up as an excuse. John Francome commented on Channel4 the grey looked fit and lean beforehand but there 'wasn't a lot of him'.

This was certainly some performance by winner Al Ferof (8/1) giving Walkon 16 lbs and a three length beating on soft/heavy ground; the horse is now quoted as low as 5/1 for the King Geroge at Kempton on Boxing Day.