First run in 1957 as the Whitbread Gold Cup, this class-1 handicap is run over 3-miles 5½-furlongs at Sandown (Saturday 4.10pm).
Two 7-year-olds, three 8-year-olds, one 9-year-old, and three 11-year-olds have won in the last decade, with 7 of those winners carrying less than 11-0. Paul Nicholls and Phillip Hobbs have trained 2 winners each in that period.
Twenty runners are set to go to post for this year’s renewal.
The handicapper seemed to overreact to his easy Ascot win earlier in the season, and he’s still 9lb above that winning mark. Only the very top-class Tidal Bay has carried to top-weight recently, and probably beyond him.
Grade-1 winning chaser has been in steady decline this season, and he’s never suggested he’ll stay this far, especially up a hill.
Sir Des Champs
Spent a long time on the side-lines after finishing second in the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup, but is now on a handy-looking mark back on good ground.
Relished this sort of trip on heavy ground earlier in the season, and could put-up a bold-jumping performance if he can handle quicker conditions, but is 10lb higher than last win.
The Druids Nephew
7lb higher than last year’s Cheltenham Festival win, and jockey Noel Fehily seems to have chosen Carole’s Destrier.
6lb higher than last win, and his last two runs at Cheltenham have been poor.
Course and distance winner off 5lb lower mark, and has won 5 of his 10 races going right-handed. Quick ground a possible concern.
11lb higher than when second in the Hennessey and when winning the Betbright Chase. Last-time faller.
Could be well-handicapped on his second to Don Poli at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival, but finished last, last and brought down so far this season.
The Grand National was his big aim, and only 10th in this in 2013 off 12lb lower mark.
Henri Pari Morgan
Could be well-handicapped after finishing in front of 159 and 154 rated rivals, though Sandown is a different kind of test to Aintree.
Boasts chase figures of 1/3/1/1/2 over fences at Sandown, and only 1lb higher than when third in the race last year. May well find a couple too good again, but looks sure to give you a run for your money.
The Young Master
Third at the Cheltenham Festival was a step in the right direction, but was 16-lengths behind the winner, who has let the form down since.
Usually better bullying lower-class horses, and this might be a bit too classy for him.
Just A Par
Last year’s winner is only 6lb higher after taking into account jockey claims, which means he’s also carrying the lowest weight, and he’ll relish the ground. Ran in the Grand National this year though, finishing in his own time.
Measure Of My Dreams
Fell at the third in the Scottish National when well-fancied, and has every right to go well if all the travelling hasn’t taken anything out of him.
Drop Out Joe
Handicapper has been quick to drop him back to a mark just 3lb above his last win, and he could easily improve that much for his first attempt at this trip. Aidan Coleman, who has won both his rides on him, is back in the saddle, and one of the more interesting outsiders.
Trainer has always said he’ll be miles better on quick ground, and gets a good chance to prove it here from the foot of the weights. Trainer had a winner this week.
Won the 2014 renewal off a 2lb lower mark carrying 11-0, and was also fifth in the 2013 renewal when carrying top-weight. Hard to fancy on this year’s form, but could easily bounce back at one of his favourite hunting grounds, on ground he should like.
Outclassed in four class-1s so far, and hard to fancy.
At the head of the market, Southfield Theatre and Henri Pari Morgan both could be well-handicapped. However, light-weights have done best in recent years, and the likes of Just A Par, Drop Out Joe, Spring Heeled and Hadrian’s Approach are all interesting each-way plays.