I kind of feel compelled to have an ante-post bet in this years Gold Cup because of the ‘shape’ of the race…
I’m more than happy to take on the top 3 in the market, for various reasons – the only question is, what with…?
The market is headed by Long Run – and I guess he is the most likely winner – but it’s not difficult to have reservations about him.
He seemed a worthy winner last year – and as he was only 6 at the time, you have to feel that his best days are still ahead of him.
However, when you look back at that Gold Cup now, you can’t help but wonder what exactly he beat…
I don’t think you can use either Denman or Kauto Star to benchmark the form. Denman was probably in decline (though it is impossible to say by how much); whilst Kauto was not himself (as he has demonstrated this season).
You are therefore looking at an 11 length beating of What a Friend or 19 length beating of Midnight Chase. Both represent decent form – but not exactly from the highest draw.
Like I said, it would be reasonable to think that Long Run would improve this season – but his 2 runs so far don’t really support this – and his jumping frailties remain a concern.
All in all, I think he is opposable – if you can find the right horse…
I honestly don’t think Kauto Star is the right horse. He is now 12 – and has been competing at the top level for 7 years. He has looked as good as ever on his 2 runs this season – but the Gold Cup trip at Cheltenham has never been his optimum test and I can’t see it being any different this season.
He could well run into a place again – but I’ll be surprised (albeit pleasantly ! ) if he is able to win.
I’d love to see Grands Crus chance his arm in the Gold Cup – but, hand on heart, I don’t think it will happen.
There are reservations about his ability to get the Gold Cup trip – and running him over almost 2 furlongs less in the RSA chase, is probably the route connections will opt for.
If he does go for Gold, I think he will take the beating, but he can’t be an ante-post choice.
Outside of these 3, you start to struggle for outstanding candidates.
I can’t get excited about Synchronised – despite his win last time in Ireland. Whilst I can get even less excited about Midnight Chase – admirable animal that he is…
The one I think there might be a bit of mileage in, is Weird Al.
He was unbeaten over fences prior to a disappointing run in last year’s Hennessy. He also ran disappointingly in last years Gold Cup – but then switched stables to Donald McCain.
In his first start for McCain, he hacked up in the Charlie Hall chase at Wetherby, beating Time For Rupert. I don’t think that is Gold Cup winning form but on his second outing, he ran third in the Betfair Chase at Haydock – behind Kauto and Long Run (and much further in front of Time for Rupert).
He has 10 lengths to make up on Kauto on that run – but just 2 on Long Run.
I actually think it will be easier for him to make up the deficit on Kauto. That was supposed to be Kauto’s day – he was doubtless primed for that run. The 3 miles around Haydock would also have suited him better than it would have done Weird Al.
Making up the 2 lengths on Long Run might be a bit trickier – but it is only 2 lengths.
One poor jump – or poor jockeyship - could more than account for that…
Weird Al is a horse that tends to run fresh – and I suspect that Donald McCain is saving him for the one day that counts.
Despite being 9, he has only raced 10 times in his life, so there should still be scope for improvement. I think that McCain could be just the man to eke out that improvement.
At the end of the day, I think he has a very good chance of placing – and half a chance of winning, if the concerns over the top 3 in the market materialise.
At 25/1, I think he is therefore worth an EW play.
1pt EW Weird Al 25/1