With the Paddy Power Cheltenham November meeting galloping towards us, the big man thought it was high time he fired up another Punters’ Panel where some of the brightest minds in game game pose questions to Ruby Walsh, Johnny Dineen and Frank Hickey.
On this agenda this time around was Cheltenham course form and the importance that should play in placing punts both in November and in March, as well as whether horses running this month should be paid special attention at The Festival.
The mighty Ruby Walsh, our top trader Frank Hickey and pro punter Johnny Dineen gathered to tackle some of your burning questions ahead of the November Meeting, starting with, ‘Why is Cheltenham course form is so important in a race like the Paddy Power Gold Cup?’.
Take it away lads.
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RUBY: I would imagine where you find most of your Paddy Power Gold Cup winners is in second season novices who most likely ran in novice chases through the winter at Cheltenham between 2m to 2m4f. Very few of them would have ran at 3m.
I rode a few who, when they dropped from 3m down to 2m4 at Cheltenham, they weren’t quick enough.
You’ll find a lot of them have had a run in a 2m chase or a 2m4f chase in Cheltenham or in a novice and that’s where you find your Paddy Power Gold Cup winners.
JOHNNY: You’re definitely looking at second season novices in a race like the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
That’s where you’d be going as they’ve probably run once or twice in the previous winter in a race like Turners Novices’ Chase or The Arkle, something like that, probably finishing down the field.
They could also be in one of those handicap chases at 2m4f at the Cheltenham Festival.
Experience in any sport counts for a lot, even if it’s going somewhere in a car first time. The second time you go you find your way easier so every time you turn up at places it’s going to become easier.
You must have an advantage over a horse that’s making its debut at a track. It’s just common sense.
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FRANK: Anything that’s run well at Cheltenham before is obviously positive and, from a traders’ point of view, you’re more looking at horses who have gone to Cheltenham and not acted around there when pricing up races.
The horse that I half-fancy antepost for the Paddy Power Gold Cup is Harper’s Brook. He’s won once over hurdles and twice over fences but you look at his form and think, ‘He doesn’t like Cheltenham at all.’
However, he was running in Graded company over fences the first time and then he ran in the Ultima which was too far in trip. You might look at that and go, ‘He’s had his two runs at Cheltenham over fences’, and put a line through him but I would look at it and think, ‘Cheltenham’s no problem for him.’
Another burning question from Paddy’s punters was, ‘Does Cheltenham November Meeting form have any relevance for the Festival? And who better placed to deliver a definitive verdict on the matter than The Festival’s winningest jockey, Mr Rupert Walsh.
RUBY: It’s hard to know. A lot of the races at The November Meeting are in a different bracket to what you get at The Festival so you can’t just run a pen through them and say those horses are not Festival horses. A lot of them who run in November won’t be running in March anyway.
It’s a completely different meeting so you will get horses who progress out of the Paddy Power Gold Cup, out of the Shloer, maybe out of the Greatwood Hurdle and out of the Novices’ Chases and also the Novices’ Hurdles.
It may have no relevance. Azertyuiop won his Novices’ Chase in November, Put The Kettle On too, Defi Du Seuil won the Shloer and bombed out but there’s loads of horses, when you look back through it, who crop up at Cheltenham in November and go on and win again in March.
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