Paddy Power Gold Cup tips and runner-by-runner guide to Cheltenham 2.20 on Saturday

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Stage Star and The Real Whacker

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Cheltenham Festival winners Stage Star and The Real Whacker are the headline acts in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Stage Star secured two victories from two runs at Cheltenham last season – including the Turners Novices’ Chase – although this will be his first crack at the Old Course.

The Real Whacker takes a step down in trip for his seasonal reappearance, but the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase champ has won three in a row at the home of the Jumps and the form of his Festival success is working out very nicely.

Ditcheat second string, Il Ridoto, could also play a big role having been a consistent sort over this trip at Cheltenham including a fourth place in last season’s renewal.

Turners second Notlongtillmay, Listed winner Unexpected Party and Magners Plate runner-up Fugitif are among the other leading contenders.

The latest Paddy Power Gold Cup odds are on the Paddy Power website and Paddy Power app, otherwise Timeform’s guide to the runners as well as betting tips from the racing boffins can be found below.

READ MORE: PADDY POWER GOLD CUP TRENDS

Paddy Power Gold Cup verdict

Timeform: There is more than a whiff of brilliant chaser about THE REAL WHACKER and while he has a huge weight to defy on his return it would be no surprise if he were up to the task, and he’s taken to make it 4-4 over the Cheltenham fences. Stage Star is the other Festival winner in the line-up and seems sure to go well given his fine record first time out for Paul Nicholls. Unexpected Party seems sure to win a good handicap or 2 this season having seen off Knappers Hill on his return.

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

Paddy Power Gold Cup runners and riders

The following horses have been declared for the Paddy Power Gold Cup 2023.

The Real Whacker

Trainer: Patrick Neville Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies Age: 7 Weight: 12st 0lbs

Looks a high-class chaser in the making and is unbeaten over fences, all 3 of his wins coming here from the front, holding on from the equally-promising Gerri Colombe in the Broadway when last seen. Record fresh not great and has a huge weight to carry, but no surprise if he’s up to the task.

*****

Stage Star

Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Harry Cobden Age: 7 Weight: 11st 7lbs

Excelled over fences last season, following up his victory in the traditionally-strong Timeform novice handicap here with victory in the Grade 1 Golden Miller at the Festival. No show at Aintree after but 3-3 first time up since his debut and a big run is surely on the cards.

****

Fugitif

Trainer: Richard Hobson Jockey: Gavin Sheehan Age: 8 Weight: 11st 5lbs

Came of age and looked a lot more mature last season, winning at Chepstow over Christmas and then second in good handicaps over this trip on the New Course, no match for Seddon in the Magners Plate at the Festival. Not so great at Aintree but could return with a big run in first-time cheekpieces.

***

Authorized Art

Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: D. E. Mullins Age: 8 Weight: 11st 5lbs

Useful novice chaser who has returned with improved efforts in cheekpieces to finish in the frame in the Galway Plate and Kerry National the last twice, a pair of unexposed novices and a rejuvenated veteran just too strong for him at Listowel. This is even tougher.

***

Notlongtillmay

Trainer: L J Morgan Jockey: Adam Wedge Age: 7 Weight: 11st 4lbs

Immediate improvement switched to fences for this yard last season, winning novice handicaps on first 3 starts before an excellent 3¼ lengths second to Stage Star in the Golden Miller at the Festival. Encouraging return over 2m here and couldn’t be dismissed back up in trip.

***

Final Orders

Trainer: Gavin Patrick Cromwell Jockey: Danny Gilligan Age: 7 Weight: 11st 0lbs

Has won handicaps on the level and over hurdles at Bellewstown this term but has underperformed on all 3 completed starts over fences since racking up a 5-timer last season (little impression at Chepstow 5 weeks ago). Tongue tie goes on now and probably still high enough in the weights.

**

Unexpected Party

Trainer: Dan Skelton Jockey: Harry Skelton Age: 8 Weight: 10st 12lbs

Emerged with credit against some of the top-flight British novice chasers of 2022/23 (chased home Stage Star twice here) and made a fine return as he saw off Knappers Hill in listed Chepstow novice 5 weeks ago. He’ll win a good handicap or 2 this season.

****

Il Ridoto

Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Freddie Gingell Age: 6 Weight: 10st 10lbs

In first-time cheekpieces, finally put it all together to land good handicap over this trip on the New Course here on Trials Day from Fugitif, finding an end-product to go with his strong-travelling ways. Fair run in the Plate after but lacklustre in the Topham final start. Needs a bit more.

***

Whistleinthedark

Trainer: L J Morgan Jockey: K. Brogan Age: 8 Weight: 10st 10lbs

Ended last season unbeaten over fences, easily winning Perth handicap over this trip final start. Likeable attitude and could have more to offer this term, this big-field scenario likely to suit him. 1 of 2 interesting runners for his yard.

***

Angels Breath

Trainer: Sam Thomas Jockey: Jonathan Burke Age: 9 Weight: 10st 10lbs

Must be extremely fragile but came back from a long absence to show promise in a couple of starts over fences last season and built on those after a further 7 months off as he ran a cracker in handicap hurdle here 3 weeks ago. On a tempting mark if building on that for red-hot yard.

***

Black Gerry

Trainer: Gary Moore Jockey: Jamie Moore Age: 8 Weight: 10st 8lbs

Won all 4 of his starts when completing last season, seeing off five rivals with another polished display in Plumpton handicap over this trip final start. Whole different test on return here but yard knows what it takes to win this.

***

Easy As That

Trainer: Venetia Williams Jockey: Charlie Deutsch Age: 8 Weight: 10st 7lbs

Looked a potentially smart chaser as he easily won handicaps at Haydock and Newcastle last term but rather blotted his copybook with a shocking display of jumping at Sandown final start. Still early days and returns with yard in flying form.

***

Torn And Frayed

Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies Jockey: Tom Bellamy Age: 9 Weight: 10st 1lbs

Made the breakthrough over fences as he won a Grade 2 handicap over this trip on the New Course when last seen in January 2022. Long absence to overcome and returns in a tough race but yard have plenty of previous in it (won 3 of the 10 renewals between 2008 and 2017).

***

Harper’s Brook

Trainer: Ben Pauling Jockey: Kielan Woods Age: 7 Weight: 10st 0lbs

Made a good start over fences last season, winning Bangor novice handicap in the mud second start, but there were concerns over his attitude as the campaign ended, looking to throw things away at Sandown in April (looked in command last only to tie up and hang badly left). Best watched on return.

***

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