Saturday's bet365 Gold Cup looks a wide open renewal, but this 10/1 shot should go well
The curtain comes down on the jumps season at Sandown on Saturday, with the feature race being the bet365 Gold Cup (3.50pm).
The 3m51/2f race has attracted a field of 20 and the fact bookmakers are going 7/1 the field tells you it’s a competitive renewal. Lucy Wadham’s Le Reve is clear market leader with most firms and the seven-year-old looks to have been laid out for this race by his astute trainer. He’s shown some of his best form at this track, including when winning over 3m1/2f in January, and he ran a stormer when runner-up to Rocky Creek in the Betbright Chase last time. He’s now on a career-high mark as a result, but still possesses plenty of scope and he promises to stay this far, with the drying ground a help in that respect.
It’s hard to pick holes in him apart from his single-figure price and it’s worth noting this race has been a graveyard for favourites, with Mr Frisk being the last outright one to oblige in 1990. That said, the majority of the beaten ones had run at Cheltenham or Aintree and, having skipped both, he arrives here a fresh horse.
However, Irish challenger GRAND JESTURE looks a huge threat and he will be carrying the lion’s share of my cash. The seven-year-old is just 3lb higher for his fine second to The Druids Nephew at the Cheltenham Festival, where he jumped like a buck and wasn’t stopping at the finish of that 3m1f race. He appeared in the declarations for the Irish Grand National but connections have decided to wait for this and that looks the right decision as his fencing is going to be a massive asset around here and the better ground is another thing in his favour.
I’m a huge fan of his promising young rider Jonathan Burke, who gave him a brilliant ride when winning on his at Punchestown in December, and the partnership should be a joy to behold over the Railway Fences, where he could take several lengths out of the field. One of few progressive sorts in a race packed with largely exposed performers, he should give us a great run for our money at the sponsors’ 10/1.
Back him each-way if you like as bet365 are one of only two firms – the other being Paddy Power – who are paying out on five places at one quarter the odds. Personally, I’d rather have a saver on Le Reve, but each to their own.
As for the rest, you’ve got to respect Cheltenham Foxhunter third Paint The Clouds given he loves a fast surface and his trainer Warren Greatrex has been sounding positive about his chances. However, all his recent wins have come in hunter chases and he may come up just short now he tackles open company. The Package is a single-figure price with some firms but David Pipe’s charge will do well to follow-up his Kim Muir success as he was trained to the minute for Cheltenham and is now 10lb higher. The best outsider could be the promising novice and bottom weight Algernon Pazham (25/1 bet365), who is the mount of talented claimer Jamie Bargary.
Grand Jesture each-way @ 10/1 bet365 (¼ odds, 126.96.36.199.5)