December Gold Cup favourite Thunder Rock is set to face 11 rivals in Saturday’s feature race at Cheltenham.
Olly Murphy’s runner heads into the Premier Handicap off the back of beating subsequent Coral Gold Cup second Mahler Mission in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase last month.
Thunder Rock – the third highest-rated horse in the race – carries less than 11st because multiple Grade 1 winner Fakir D’oudairies drops into handicap company for the first time in his illustrious career.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup has previously been a good guide to the December Gold Cup so Il Ridoto and Fugitif – lumbered with 11st 3lbs – will be hoping to improve after placing third and fourth in that race.
Harry Cobden has abandoned Cheltenham regular Il Ridoto for stablemate Monmiral, however, and the lightly-raced chaser has some decent form in the book after getting the better of Thunder Rock in last season’s Paddy Power Novices’ Chase over course and distance when placing second behind The Real Whacker.
The latest December 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.
December Gold Cup verdict
Timeform: THUNDER ROCK’s latest success at Carlisle looks a lot better now that the runner-up ran a big race in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury, so he can prove himself ahead of a mark of 146. Monmiral looks capable of better as a chaser on return and So Scottish might well have been lined up for this, so they’re also considered.
*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
December Gold Cup runners and riders
The following horses have been declared for the December Gold Cup 2023.
Trainer: Joseph Patrick O’Brien Jockey: Jonjo O’Neill Jr. Age: 8 Weight: 12st 0lbs
High-class Irish chaser who looked a fortunate winner of Thurles Grade 2 in January. Respectable second in Melling Chase (had won previous two renewals) at Aintree when last seen 8 months ago and his class will count for plenty in this.
Trainer: Richard Hobson Jockey: Gavin Sheehan Age: 8 Weight: 11st 3lbs
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. 12/1 and cheekpieces on 1st time, respectable fourth of 14 in handicap chase at this course (20.2f, soft) 28 days ago. Others preferred.
Trainer: Olly Murphy Jockey: Sean Bowen Age: 7 Weight: 10st 12lbs
Four-time hurdle winner who has developed into a smart chaser and scored readily at Carlisle last time. That form has been boosted (runner-up ran well next time) and he could take a big prize here.
Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Harry Cobden Age: 6 Weight: 10st 11lbs
Smart hurdler who made a positive start over fences last season. Form tailed off but young enough to think he can still come good in this sphere, so makes plenty of appeal back from 8 months off.
Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Bryony Frost Age: 6 Weight: 10st 9lbs
In first-time cheekpieces, finally put it all together to land good handicap over this trip on the New Course here on Trials Day. Returned to form when third in handicap at this course a month ago and likely to give his running again.
Trainer: Emmet Mullins Jockey: M. P. Walsh Age: 6 Weight: 10st 7lbs
Didn’t really kick on from a promising start to chasing last season but he had excuses at Gowran last time and shrewd yard now fits a tongue strap. Every chance this has always been the target for him, so expect a big run.
Jay Jay Reilly
Trainer: Dan Skelton Jockey: Harry Skelton Age: 7 Weight: 10st 5lbs
Won twice (at up to 18f) over fences last term and shaped better than distance beaten the last twice, poorly placed when fifth at Newbury a fortnight ago. Not ruled out.
Do Your Job
Trainer: Lucinda Russell Jockey: Derek Fox Age: 9 Weight: 10st 2lbs
Grade 2 winning novice chaser in his prime. Quiet time of it last season and yet to fire for current stable this term.
Trainer: Alan King Jockey: Tom Bellamy Age: 7 Weight: 9st 13lbs
Winning hurdler who has a generally progressive profile over fences, back on the up when landing a 6-runner handicap at Wetherby last month. Could do better still, so merits respect.
Trainer: Venetia Williams Jockey: Charlie Deutsch Age: 8 Weight: 9st 13lbs
Positive start to last season tailed off but he’s firmly back on track now and ran a cracker when second at Newbury last time. That form looks strong and another bold showing is expected.
Torn And Frayed
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies Age: 9 Weight: 9st 13lbs
C&D winner in January 2022 and shaped as if retaining ability prior to falling at this track on only subsequent outing last month. Not a forlorn hope.
Trainer: Gavin Patrick Cromwell Jockey: Conor Stone-Walsh Age: 8 Weight: 9st 9lbs
Scored at Tipperary in July and has been in reasonable form lately but this looks a stiff task from out of the weights.
Saturday’s Racing Tips
- Matt Chapman’s horse racing tips for ITV on Saturday include a 10/1 pick
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- Ruby Walsh’s horse racing tips for ITV on Saturday
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