The Paddy Power Gold Cup is the signature race of the three-day meeting and one you always wanted on your CV as a jockey. There’s a strong line-up again, as you’d expect, with a couple of intriguing runners in the line-up.
NEW TO PADDY POWER?
A Triumph Hurdle trial to start, where Paul Nicholls saddles market leader MAGISTRATO. I don’t believe he has as much up his sleeve as the market suggests, but looks the most likely winner. Alan King’s Caramelised had looked the best of the juveniles on his two wins to date, but got in a right state at Market Rasen and that caused him to flop when an odds-on favourite. If he can relax better now in a first-time hood, he is a big danger.
OPPOSITES ATTRACT has kept some pretty lofty company in his career and is still only a seven-year-old. He was a good third behind Latest Exhibition in a beginners’ chase at Punchestown last year and the form of that race has worked out well. Still looks fairly handicapped off his mark in this 3m 1f amateur jockeys chase and he can win for trainer Dermot McLoughlin.
Just the four runners are declared, and Dan Skelton’s THIRD TIME LUCKI was faultless over fences when winning over course and distance in October. Captain Tom Cat beat Mick Pastor last weekend at Wincanton, however there was very little between them. Mick Pastor should turn the tables over this shorter trip, but neither should beat the selection.
Let’s kick off with the well-backed horses in the Paddy Power Gold Cup. Lalor hasn’t won for some time, but the switch of stables to Paul Nicholls and a recent wind operation could spark a revival. If it does, he is dangerous. Zanza has been put up by a few judges and his seasonal comeback run at Exeter was decent, but he did have a hard race there and that is a slight concern.
Coole Cody was a run-away winner of this contest last year, however we have very different ground this time around. He made a lovely seasonal comeback over hurdles and that should put him spot on again and he is only 4lb higher than when winning last year.
SIMPLY THE BETTS is another to have changed stables and is very interesting. He lost in this last year when strongly fancied and is definitely worth an each-way play at a decent price. He has had a wind op too, and now runs for Paul Nicholls with Bryony Frost aboard.
Protektorat was a very easy winner of a novice chase at this meeting in 2020 before going missing and then bouncing back with a Grade One win at Aintree. He races off 154 and Long Run got beaten in this race off a mark of 158 before he went on to win a king George and a Gold Cup!
MIDNIGHT SHADOW is the one I like at the prices. He ticks all the boxes of being a winner at Cheltenham and a good jumper who travels strongly. They are the qualities you need to win a race of this nature.
A very competitive handicap hurdle over 3m. SPORTING JOHN is the class act, but my main concern is that his seasonal debut now is a warm-up run for bigger targets this season. He was originally going to run at Carlisle in a chase a few weeks ago, so should be fit enough.
He won the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown last season and was very smart over hurdles the season before. The step up in trip now makes him a really interesting contender.
The top-weight Benson is a fascinating runner. He finished fourth at Ascot behind Not so Sleepy in December 2020 on his last start and won a big handicap hurdle at Sandown before that. He is a character though, and can give you heart failure in the run. He has had a wind operation and if that works, he could still be well handicapped.
I’ll stick with GOOD TIME JONNY for my old mate Tony Martin. There is nobody better at setting one up for a big prize and the Irish challenger won nicely at Gowran Park.
We close Saturday’s card with a 2m National Hunt race and I’ll side with dual winner BONTTAY for Fergal O’Brien and Paddy Brennan. He won from a tricky position at this venue last month and the stable is in great form. He can deliver again.
- CHECK OUT OUR BRAND NEW SNAZZY RACECARDS FOR EVERY SINGLE RACE TODAY
- … THEN GET ALL THE WINNERS BEFORE ANYONE ELSE WITH OUR FAST RESULTS
- Gallop over to Paddy Power News for all the latest racing tips
- Horse Racing tips: Paul Jacobs’ 4 value plays for Cheltenham’s November Meeting
- Paddy Power Gold Cup: Lalor & Protektorat vie for favouritism after five-day declarations
- Tiger Roll next race: Grand National hero set to run at Cheltenham on Sunday