Date: 21st January
The 2013 Gold Cup is building into an absolute cracker. The Gold Cup is the race that the season points at for most National Hunt fans. It is the race you want to win, your name etched in history.
In recent years we have been furnished with the riches of Denman and Kauto Star who won three runnings between them and featured in a further two. Bridging the gap to the modern day was Imperial Commander who was a forgotten horse when he romped up the hill.
Two years ago, Long Run bounced onto the scene. A clumsy yet incredibly talented horse. I was stood next to Nicky Henderson the day he lost his RSA Chase and you could see from the reaction of the Henderson team that it as not the expected outcome. He repaid them a year later with a superb Gold Cup win which set a track record, all at the tender age of 6.
Last year, the ill fated Synchronised was held together by a typically strong McCoy drive to deny The Giant Bolster with Long Run failing to pick up after the last. That did not look the strongest renewal but it brings us to the modern day.
The Gold Cup – Changing of the Guard
Some Gold Cup renewals are about familiar old foes drawing swords once again. This year, we have an array of new talent sweeping in to the Gold Cup, emphasised by the market assessment (21st Jan). Four of the first five are Gold Cup debutantes…
Bobs Worth 3/1, Sir Des Champs 5/1, Long Run 7/1, Silviniaco Conti 15/2, Flemenstar 12/1, First Lieutenant 12/1, Tidal Bay (ranges 10/1 to 20/1), The Giant Bolster 20/1, Captain Chris 20/1, Grand Crus 25/1, Hunt Ball 25/1, 40/1 bar.
What is so exciting about this market is that you can differing views of the form on offer. I am splitting the market into two. In the Red Corner, we have the best of Ireland, plus Tidal Bay and Bobs Worth. In the Blue Corner, we have Long Run and Silviniaco Conti.
The Red Corner
Sir Des Champs was one of the stand out winners at last years festival. He barely touched the birch as he dominated a Jewson that included Peddlers Cross, Champion Court and For Non Stop (The 2012 Jewson). He picked up so well after the last, I took a very strong impression from the performance and looked forward to him this year.
Not all has gone to plan though. The first blot on the copybook was inflicted by Flemenstar who beat him over two and a half in the mud. The former had fitness on his side and the distance was probably against Sir Des Champs too, so fans had no strong cause to lose heart.
The Lexus though proved that even at staying distances, Sir Des Champs was not certain to be a better horse than Flemenstar. He finished fourth which again was no disgrace given there was less than a length between him and the eventual winner Tidal Bay. What a race the Lexus was, possibly the most exciting finish of the season with the veteran victor getting up against all odds to defeat the young pretenders.
Sir Des Champs again lost little in defeat, he proved he is amongst the best Ireland has to offer and we know he is proven around Cheltenham.
Will Flemenstar turn up in the Gold Cup? Will he enjoy Cheltenham? Would he stay the distance? I don’t think we will see Flemenstar in the Gold Cup. Even if we did, while he travelled the better of the Lexus horses, his lack of experience of that Cheltenham hill would be a huge concern to me too.
Bobs Worth was a tremendous winner of the 2012 RSA Chase. First Lieutenant was an admiral opponent but Bobs Worth knuckled down and got better on the hill.
This year he has furthered his class with a scruffier but staying on victory in the Hennessy. Tidal Bay put in a massive effort giving Bobs Worth 6lbs and getting within 4 lengths. That said, I though Bobs Worth had given less at the end.
He also put a useful bit of form on the books against First Lieutenant, who as we know, mixed it up nicely with Sir Des Champ, Flemestar and Tidal Bay in the Lexus.
On the combined evidence of the Lexus, RSA and Hennessy, Bobs Worth has the beating of First Lieutenant. The latter is also well matched with Sir Des Champs, Flemenstar and Tidal Bay.
As such, my view is in line with the market. I think Bobs Worth has the beating of the Irish horses and it is entirely understandable why he is the 3/1 favourite.
The Blue Corner
Long Run must be one of the most unfashionable horses in training. Markets and punters have not embraced this horse who has won a Gold Cup, placed in another and claimed two King George titles.
He is yet to be unplaced in Britain since arriving from France in a series of 9 Grade 1s, 2 Grade 2s and a Grade 3.
I can understand why he is hard to back. In most of the write ups of his races he is inconvenienced by one or more of the obstacles. Whether you attribute this to horse or pilot is irrelevant, he likes to smack a fence and this can compromise his chances.
I personally think this horse is the one that has proven the most in the field. I have made my views very clear in previous posts as to the jockeyship of Long Run. Essentially, I want the best jockeys on the best horses.
Having won one Gold Cup, Long Run was a bit disappointing in the renewal in March 2012 . I do not think it was the best Gold Cup and it is a race that Long Run should have won.
While the novice form of Silviniaco Conti was very good, he has really come into his own this year. He beat Long Run in the Betfair and while it was his opponents first run, I am not sure that many excuses can be made.
Silviniaco has dished out beatings to Champion Court and Captain Chris in his past and you have to think that this horse is at or near the top of the tree.
Really tough call between the two in the Red Corner.
Tidal Bay has been magnificent this year and it begs the question what might h heave achieved if he were a Ditcheat horse all of his life? At the age of 12 though, to win a Gold Cup? Not for the Major.
The Giant Bolster ran a decent race in the Betfair but overall, I think this horse is short of top class and I would be surprised to see him play a major role in the festival race.
Grand Crus would be a surprising name on the card on the day, I think he will be heading for a shorter distance. Captain Chris might be a Ryanair horse too.
The Conclusion and The Gold Cup Antepost Tip
The race boils down to Bobs Worth 3/1, Long Run 7/1 and Silvianco Conti 15/2.
Bobs Worth certainly has the reckoning of the Irish set but he will be facing some seriously tasty home opposition in stablemate Long Run and the best of Ditcheat, Silviniaco.
I am minded to play with the two latter horses because I believe Long Run to be better than the majority give him credit for. His errors in jumping have hindered him but not stopped him amassing a very decent trophy record. The price of Long Run accommodates his amateur pilot.
I cannot find many chinks in Silviniaco though and feel a bet on both gives us excellent chances.
Advice (21st Jan) – Gold Cup Antepost
Back: Long Run each way 7/1 BetVictor (offer non runner free bet) and back Silviniaco Conti 15/2 each way with Stan James.