The Irish Gold Cup (Sunday 4 February) was first run in 1987, but for the first time in 2018 it is being incorporated into the Dublin Festival along with the Irish Champion Hurdle and many other prestigious races.
The race will take place over 3-miles at Leopardstown, and previous renewals have been won by legends of both Irish and English National Hunt Racing such as Carvill’s Hill, Jodami, Danoli, Beef or Salmon, and Florida Pearl. Last year’s winner Sizing John, who is not defending his crown after a poor run at Christmas, went on to win both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Punchestown Gold Cup.
Winners have been aged 7 to 10
Winners have been rated from 150 to 164
Only 1 of the last 7 favourites have won
SP’s have ranged from 8/13 to 20/1
Willie Mullins has trained 3 of the last 7 winners
John Kiely has trained 2 of the last 3 winners
Rated 167 after an impressive win in last year’s Irish Grand National, and is fancied by many to go close in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Drop back to 3-miles shouldn’t be a problem though, as he’s won 2 of his 3 races here at Leopardstown. He also beat the high-class Coney Island and Disko in winning a Grade 1 Novice Chase over course and distance in 2016. Disappointed on his seasonal debut in November but, though he’ been absent since, he’s won after a break before.
Road To Respect
Won 4 of his last 5 chases, beaten by Outlander in between, but took his revenge on that rival in the Lexus Chase in December. Clearly going the right way, and could easily win this on route to the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but it’s worth noting that his trainer Noel Meade has never won the race before.
Beat Thistlecrack at the 2015 Punchestwon Festival in a 3-mile hurdle race, and won again there over hurdles over 20-furlongs after a 23-month absence in December. That absence came after he won a remarkable race in which sprawled on landing after the last only to get back up. Has a serious engine and, if he jumps better than he usually does, he could yet become a top-class chaser.
Had some good form as a novice chaser, but his handicap-win last time off a mark of 148 still leaves him with a bit to find with a few of these.
Beat Anibale Fly as a novice chaser and, and was only just second to Our Duke over course and distance. Had to take a year off after that, but bounced back with a decent victory at Ascot in December. Entitled to go well.
Has two ways of running, but has never run a bad race at Leopardstown, including winning the 2016 Lexus Chase over course and distance. His third in the 2017 Lexus Chase was also commendable as Rachael Blackmore, who was a late replacement for Jack Kennedy, had never ridden him before. Gordon Elliott has yet to train a winner of the Irish Gold Cup.
There’s a slight doubt about most of the runners. Our Duke flopped last time, Road To Respect is trained by a trainer who’s yet to win the race, and Killultagh Vic is prone to jumping problems. Therefore, as Anibale Fly and Coney Island have been beaten by some of the other runners, it could be worth chancing that Jack Kennedy makes the difference to Outlander, who would be winning his fifth race in six runs at the track.