The Punchestown Gold Cup (17:30 Weds 26th Apr) was first run in 1999, and is run over 3-miles and 1-furlong, with 17 fences needing to be jumped. It has been won by some of the iconic names of the last two decades of Irish National Hunt Racing, including Imperial Call, Florida Pearl, Beef or Salmon, Kicking King, War Of Attrition and Don Cossack.
Winners have been aged 6 to 10, with four 8-year-olds winning
Only 2 of the last 10 winners had won last time out
Runners had run 4 to 73 days previously
SPs have ranged from 9/10 to 20/1
Willie Mullins has trained 2 of the last 4 winners
Ruby Walsh has ridden 3 of the last 10 winners
Bold front-runner who should have no problem with the trip, the ground or the right-handed track. However, he made mistakes when taken on for the lead in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and Coneygree is unlikely to give him an easy lead here.
The 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup Winner has been off the track for 158-days, though he has won 4-times on his seasonal debut, so could be best caught fresh. Beaten just once over fences, when second to Cue Card at Haydock this season, and connections surely wouldn’t be bringing him here if they didn’t think they had him spot-on. Could prove a tough-nut to crack if at his best.
Has a bad habit of finding one too good, and has twice finished runner-up in this as well as twice in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Only fourth in this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, but would probably have been second but for a bad mistake. Deserves a big one, but his problem is that he has already been beaten by Sizing John and Coneygree at the highest-level.
Likeable 12-year-old who should be too long in the tooth for this, and has always been a doubtful stayer at 3-miles anyway.
Course winner, but was behind Djakadam in the John Durkan this season, and tends to reserve his very best for Leopardstown.
Beaten at three previous Punchestown Festivals gives the others hope that he won’t be at his best here, but he’s basically a different animal now he’s been stepped-up to 3-miles+. Won the Irish Gold Cup and the Cheltenham Gold Cup with something in hand, and arguably could have the most improvement to come as the youngest horse in the field.
2017 Punchestown Gold Cup Summary
It’s hard to knock anything that Sizing John has done since being stepped-up to 3-miles, and he will prove hard to beat if turning-up in the same form as when winning the Irish and Cheltenham Gold Cups. He already seemingly has the measure of most of his rivals and, the only horse that has a shout at beating him is probably Coneygree. Mark Bradstock’s 10-year-old is a brilliant front-runner, who has also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and it could be an interesting battle if both are at their best. However, with the Jessica Harrington Stable in such good from, and Sizing John much improved at 3-miles, it is hard to desert him on this occasion.
Sizing John @ 11/10 (Coral, Ladbrokes)