Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup
- The coup de grace in the National Hunt world
- This is the horse that every trainer, owner and jockey wants to win, even more than the Grand National
- 3 miles 2 furlongs
- Run over fences
Anyone who knows me or has followed my previews will not be surprised to hear what I am about to say. DON POLI wins.
I think this must be the most excited I’ve ever been ahead of a Gold Cup – the line up is incredible despite the late defection of Vautour and the quality of horses on show will be fantastic.
If you’re looking for a Gold Cup winner you always need to take account of course form – the list of past winners is littered with horses who had previous winning form on the course like Coneygree, Lord Windermere and Denman. Don Poli is two from two at Cheltenham including a win in the RSA last year. He is a dogged stayer – often the first one off the bridle but he stays and stays and stays and stays some more.
Some of these are flashier like Don Cossack and some like Cue Card would add more sporting drama and romance to the occasion – but for me the one that ticks all the boxes is Don Poli. I have heard some people argue that he is too slow but that argument doesn’t hold any water – he won the Martin Pipe Hurdle over a trip of 2.5 miles at the festival two years ago and there are no slouches in that race. I tipped him up at 6/1 which I am pleased about because it was a nice each way price for people but I wouldn’t be afraid to go in again at 4/1. He just screams Gold Cup winner at me.
Don Cossack and Djakadam are the joint favourites at the time of writing but they have both fallen this season and Djakadam’s fall resulted in a nasty injury. He also came up just short last year. Don Cossack has a poor record at Cheltenham and I think he is a bit overrated.
Cue Card terrifies me. Every time I underestimate him he comes back to teach me a lesson and I am minded to have a small bet on him just in case he does so again. I think he is a bit too old to win this though and I think the King George was his crowning glory. Coming up the hill I think Don Poli will go past him.
SMAD PLACE is another interesting contender. For me, he has to be ridden from the front to see the best of him. He was stunning in the Hennessy Gold Cup and I don’t think Wayne Hutchison has had enough credit for the ride he gave him that day, which wasn’t what the trainer Alan King wanted him to do but he just took it upon himself. He was then given a waiting ride in the King George much to my disgust because I had backed him expecting similar tactics to the Hennessy.
It’s a mystery as to why Alan King didn’t want the horse to lead. They reverted to those tactics in the Betbright Chase at Cheltenham in January and the result was assured – a cracking win over the Grand National winner Many Clouds. There probably isn’t a harder race to win from the front than this but Coneygree did it last year and Smad Place could make a race of it this year with a similar approach. If he does, it might be worth a small each way on him because there won’t be many who can pass him. Don Poli will of course, don’t you worry about that.
- Already advised – DON POLI – 5pts win at 6/1
- SMAD PLACE – 1pt each way at 10/1 (Ladbrokes)