Friday, April 28, 2017

Sandown's bet365 Gold Cup 2017

In the past I've noted a certain similarity between selecting a birthday card for Mrs Tips and selecting a horse for Sandown's bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase, both of which, incidentally, occur around this time of year.

You've done it all several times before, you've been around long enough to know what's required and, if you get my drift, you don't want to spend too much money; you've picked the odd winner here and there, a few efforts have managed to scrape a place, several others have barely mustered a mention in passing whilst the vast majority have fallen into a category that can best be described as egregious.

Judging by the uncharacteristic affection displayed, this year's card can be considered something of an eased-down winner but any thoughts of a famous 'spring double' have to be tempered, I'm afraid, as I rate my chances of tipping the winner of the 2017 Sandown showpiece as, at best, minimal.

Still, one out of two isn't bad.

With just thirteen declared, the smallest field for many a long year, many will feel Neil Mulholland holds the key to the race; his three runners head most betting lists.

Mulholland won last year's renewal with The Young Master who pipped Just A Par a short head (stablemate The Druids Nephew fifth, Theatre Guide eighth, Le Reve pulled up) and the gelding tries again off the same mark after falling at Becher's first time in the Grand National three weeks ago; previously he had finished sixth in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival (The Druids Nephew seventh and Theatre Guide eighth).

Priced up favourite, Doing Fine comes to this in fine form with a low weight to boot but this represents a step-up in class; favourites have a poor record in the race - the Weekender indicates the last outright favourite to oblige was Mr Frisk in 1990.

The Druids Nephew is certainly fresher than some and will sport a first-time visor; I've read somewhere that he was distracted by the fall of Vintage Clouds and Vic De Touzaine's unseating two out in the Ultima. To my mind he probably makes most appeal of the Mulholland horses; however on Racing Post ratings his mark of 142 is some way behind the top two, Doing Fine and Benbens, who are rated 166.

The trainers' title race this side of the Irish Sea may lack the drama of the Willie Mullins / Gordon Elliott showdown but it's still undecided - Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls saddle two apiece.

Vyta Du Roc's sixth in the Hennessy reads well and last time out he lost a shoe at Kempton; Sugar Baron was well supported for the Scottish National seven days ago but he got no further than the first and then proceeded to race loose for much of the trip.

Just A Par won the 2015 renewal and appeared to be worried out of it last year so his chance has to be respected while this is the first time Present Man races beyond three miles one.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Benbens is the other runner who competed in the Scottish National last week and what a race he ran at odds of 50/1!

The twelve-year-old finished third, beaten two and a quarter lengths, with his amateur jockey, Mr Z Baker, putting up two pounds overweight... Nigel's son Sam takes over the steering tomorrow but the worry is that effort together with the travelling involved may have taken its toll.

With Rock The Kasbah not certain to stay, I'm leaning towards What's Happening for an each-way wager.

Tom George's charge has clearly had his injury problems but back in April 2015 he won over three and a half miles on good ground at Cheltenham.

Following a long spell on the sidelines he ran second behind Perfect Candidate at Exeter in February (Masters Hill, Theatrical Star, Harry Topper, As De Fer and Buywise amongst those in behind) before finishing eleventh in the Kim Muir. The handicapper has dropped him a pound for that effort and I'm hoping there is some further improvement to come.

At 16/1 What's Happening is the each-way selection.

Rightly Altior is long odds on for the Celebration Chase at 3.00 but BetVictor price Special Tiara 5/1 while Sky Bet go 9/2; I admit to being tempted. Special Tiara was particularly quick over the obstacles in the Champion Chase six and a half weeks ago. He won the 2015 renewal of this race, having finishing third at Cheltenham that year.

On a line through Fox Norton, Altior wins comfortably but the Tizzard yard were going through a quiet spell at the time. The official handicapper rates Altior one pound superior.

The times of the Festival races were:

Arkle 14.03.17  3m 55.50s (slow by 3.50s); beat Cloudy Dream six lengths;

Special Tiara:
Champion Chase 15.03.17 3m 55.40s (slow by 3.40s); beat Fox Norton a head.

I wouldn't blame anyone for not following but at 5/1 I'll stay loyal to Special Tiara who did me a big favour at the Festival last month.


Anonymous said...

The bet365 Gold Cup is the free TimeForm race so I've noted their ratings and my own below.

Rtg Horse [Timeform]
170 DOING FINE(IRE) [168]
169 JUST A PAR(IRE) [160]
168 BENBENS(IRE) [166]
164 VYTA DU ROC(FR) [162]
161 SUGAR BARON(IRE) [166p]
160 PRESENT MAN(IRE) [162]
159 LE REVE(IRE) [159]

What's Happening is joint top rated on my ratings and I think you have found a bit of value here, I've missed the 16/1 but the current 14/1 is still above my tissue odds of 9/1. Both sets of ratings show how competitive the race is so an EW play does look the option.

Tom George's comments are heartening:

"He had a year off with injury. He ran a good, solid race at Exeter but didn't run his race at Cheltenham. I imagine he bounced. We've been aiming him for this since. We know he stays the trip and he's a fresh horse when a lot of them aren't."

Last day of the Jumps season so thanks very much for all of your posts this term.

Good Luck!


GeeDee said...

Thanks for these ratings, TW, and many thanks for your contributions over the season.

Tom George's comments are a positive. I also noted that although the selection finished well down the field in the Kim Muir, he was beaten just under 20 lengths.

Fingers crossed... ;)


GeeDee said...

What happened to Whats Happening?

On the second circuit, he started to struggle to maintain his position in midfield; from four out the selection, sent off a 14/1 chance, went backwards, eventually finishing tenth, beating just Just A Par home (Le Reve and Present Man pulled up). That's what happened to Whats Happening.

There was a major shock in the race with 40/1 shot Henllan Harri winning from four pounds out of the handicap. Leading from the off, Peter Bowen's charge kept all-comers at bay, beating Vyta Du Roc (6/1) and Theatre Guide (20/1) a head and a neck, with less than three lengths covering the first eight home!

Altior (30/100f) won the Celebration Chase in the manner his price suggested he would. Special Tiara (4/1) led but didn't blaze a trail; he eased three lengths clear as they turned back for home but De Boinville quickly covered the move on the favourite and had the race in the bag before the final fence. The official winning distance was eight lengths.