The Paddy Power Gold Cup is the big betting race of the weekend and I feel it is safe to assume that the ground will be soft come post time given there is significant rain forecast for the area during the day.
There has been plenty of talk in the build up to the race about the prospects of the Paul Nicholls’ trained 5-year-old Saint Sonnet, but he looks plenty short enough now and my two against the field are Nicky Henderson’s Mister Fisher and Happy Diva (2.15) with the mare getting the each way vote as she bids to win the race back-to-back.
Kerry Lee’s 9-y-old has been dropped a couple of pounds for her comeback run at Wetherby when she tanked through the race before the lack of a recent run took its toll. She is 8lbs higher than when successful 12 months ago, but 6lbs better off with Simply The Betts for the length and three-quarters she was behind that rival at the Cheltenham Festival. The each way recommendation is 14/1 at William Hill who are betting six places each way.
I don’t usually take much notice of juvenile hurdles until the second half of the season, but I thought Hell Red (12.30) was hugely impressive at Chepstow on his British debut and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t maintain his unbeaten British record in the opener. The selection is Evens at BetVictor and he receives 5lbs from Gordon Elliot’s Duffle Coat who is three out of three over timber and won a listed event at Wetherby just over a fortnight ago.
Fusil Raffles has impressed in winning both his novice chases so far this term, but both those successes were gained on good ground and he must give 3lbs to the chasing newcomer Quel Destin (1.40) and, given the forecast rain, that may prove beyond the Nicky Henderson trained five-year-old who was below par in both runs on soft ground over timber. The 4s – from – 9/2 with Boylesports looks fair.
Mackenburg (2.23) impressed at Carlisle on his hurdles debut and he is taken to follow up at Wetherby in what looks a match between the Donald McCain runner – 11/10 with BetVictor – and Hooligan who caused a 25/1 shock when scoring at Warwick on his first start over timber back in February. The runner up – Nickolson – may have got racing from too far out on that occasion but it was no fluke, and the Tom George gelding is another exciting prospect.
At Uttoxeter Rozmuc Relay is interesting stepping up in trip for Kim Bailey but I like the booking of Jack Tudor for Jammy George (2.07) who was nominated as a possible NH Chase candidate for the Cheltenham Festival in March by trainer Harry Whittington. He ran well in a good race at Aintree on his reappearance and this severe test of stamina – 3m 2f – looks sure to suit. The 6s with William Hill was too big and the selection is now 10/3 with the same firm.
At Lingfield I hope to see Astro King (12.45) appreciate the switch to polytrack having got booged down at Doncaster on soft ground over 10f last time. The selection drops back to a mile this afternoon which is a slight concern and there is no guaranteed pace in the race. I hope Andrea Atzeni – who is the colt’s fourth jockey on four starts – makes plenty of use of the three-year-old if nobody else wants to make it. The 9/4 with Boylesports looks fair.
Colin Tizzard had a double at Exeter earlier in the week and The Big Breakaway (1.15) is taken to make a winning debut over fences in the opener on Sunday. The selection – Evens with William Hill -was taken out of a race at Newbury on account of the ground – deemed too quick – but no such problems at Cheltenham. He is an exciting prospect.
Earlier in the week I confirmed that I was sweet on the chances of Proschema (3.00) in the Greatwood Hurdle, but I was hoping that the ground would be no worse than good to soft. I suggested that the 9/1 was too big and he is 5/1 at the time of writing. I recommend an each way saver on Edwardstone who is 6s with Unibet who are betting 5 places.
I am a huge fan of Defi Du Seuil but the Philip Hobbs yard are not exactly firing on all cylinders and, on this occasion, the vote goes to Rouge Vif (2.25) so impressive when scoring over C&D – albeit in handicap company – at the Showcase meeting last month. The selection is 11/4 with BetVictor.
Third Time Lucki (3.35) is rated just 129 but he was the first of the British home in the Festival Bumper in March and he and stablemate Wilde About Oscar are the two novice hurdlers that have impressed me most so far this term. The 11/8 with Boylesports looks fair.