Our resident tipster fires two arrows at Saturday's Paddy Power Gold Cup.
Any preview of the Paddy Power Gold Cup should start with the Pipe-trained representatives – the stable has won it nine times after all – and we’ve potentially three to consider this time round.
King’s Palace has been put in as favourite by the sponsors and it’s easy to see why as the seven-year-old has plenty of winning form at the course in good company. However, all his wins have come in small-field novice chases and he’s twice disappointed at Festival here when it really matters. In his favour is his record fresh and you can bank on him being fit enough for a race the stable targets, but I’m not sure I can trust him.
Stablemate MONETAIRE interests me more as it was at this meeting 12 months ago that he went down as a particularly unlucky loser. Having been unsighted he did everything but fall at the first fence and it was to his credit he even got back into contention, before his exertions told and he finished an honourable third. He ran another cracker over track and trip at the Festival, narrowly losing to the re-opposing Darna, and he might have won there had he not dwelt at the start and the ground been a bit softer.
He’s quirky and has had his problems, but there may still be some improvement to come and his ‘quiet’ style of racing is perfectly suited to these big handicaps, where he can sit in behind and creep into contention. He may not be the best handicapped horse in the race, but he’s not the worst either on a mark of 141, which is just 3lb higher than his March run, and he looks sure to give backers a run for their money. That said, some rain would not go amiss (some forecast on Friday am) and should the ground stay “good” (as they were calling it on Thursday), I would seriously consider switching to the aforementioned Darna, a 25/1 shot currently.
The third Pipe-trained entry is La Vaticane and she would be of huge interest if running in this instead of Friday’s Paddy Power Handicap Chase, which seems her most likely target. She’s just 4/1 for that and will win it, but I digress. UPDATE – La Vaticane has been declared for Friday’s race.
Back to the Paddy Power and I’m going to put up another one to back – firing a couple of arrows is no bad thing in such a competitive race with double-figure odds available for the majority of the field. And the horse in question is last year’s fifth BUYWISE, who looked a shade unlucky not to finish closer having made a bad mistake at a key stage of the race. That has been his Achilles heel in the past, admittedly, but he’s not fallen since his hunter chase days (13 starts) and his fencing is getting better with age.
What I really like about him, though, is that he stays so well and with the race featuring so many front runners and therefore likely to be run a furious pace, it could be set up perfectly for him. When you factor in his course record – form figures of 5154 – and the fact his trainer Evan Williams has continued in excellent form since saddling an 11/1 winner at the last Cheltenham meeting, the case for backing him each-way at the current 16/1 is clear-cut.
There are too many dangers to mention them all here, but 2013 winner and last year’s head runner-up Johns Spirit will surely be on the premises again, while Annacotty, a winner here on Trials Day, could also go well on his first start for Alan King.