The Irish Gold Cup is one of eight grade one races at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown but it is undoubtedly the highlight of the two-day meeting. It takes place on Sunday and its role of honour rekindles exciting memories of past renewals won by Irish equine legends like Carvill’s Hill, Imperial Call, Danoli, Beef or Salmon, and Florida Pearl, whilst the 2017 winner Sizing John went on to complete a stunning unprecedented treble by winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Punchestown Gold Cup in the same season.
The race takes place over three miles and there are 17 fences that need to be jumped, something which many fancied runners over the years have failed to do. It was once a great race for favourite-backers but several of the most recent renewals have been bookies benefits including Carlingford Lough’s victory at 20/1 in 2016 and Edwulf’s 33/1 success last year.
This year’s renewal looks a fascinating contest, with a variety of runners that may well be challenging for honours in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and/or Grand National this season.
Irish Gold Cup 2019 Runner-By-Runner Guide
Road To Respect
Noel Meade has yet to train a winner of this race but Road To Respect looks to be one of his best ever chances. Having finished fourth and third in the Cheltenham and Punchestown Gold Cups last season, he looked an improved performer when winning this season’s JNwine.com Chase on his seasonal debut. May have won the Savills Chase at Christmas but for an uncharacteristic late error and will surely go close with a clear round of jumping.
Al Boum Photo
Willie Mullins has trained nine winners of the Irish Gold Cup, but this one has been deserted by Ruby Walsh, who rides Bellshill, However, he has continued the improvement this season that he showed at the end of last season. The form of his seasonal debut win at Tramore could have hardly worked out better, with the well-beaten third and fourth finishing first and second in the Thyestes Chase next time. Also ran well as a novice at this meeting last year.
The choice of Ruby Walsh from the two Willie Mullins trained runners and will probably improve for his seasonal debut, but will need to having finished behind Road To Respect, despite that one making a mistake. Overall form suggests he’s better right-handed and he’s placed just once from four starts at Leopardstown.
Has some top-class efforts to his name including when beating Al Boum Photo by half a length over half a mile shorter in the Flogas Novices’ Chase at last year’s Dublin Racing Festival. Has also run some solid races at three-miles including in a slowly run affair here at Christmas, but he’s always looked vulnerable to a stronger stayer at this trip.
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Best to forget about his run over two-miles last time, as that trip is way too short for him, but he was also looking outpaced when falling two out in last year’s Irish Gold Cup. Has won a handicap over course and distance but likely to be much better suited to the extra distance of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National, after placing in both those races last season.
Balko Des Flos
Ran a great race to be second to Road To Respect over course and distance in 2017 and followed that run by beating the high-class Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair Chase at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival. But he’s been nowhere near that good before or after those two runs, including when only ninth behind several of today’s runners at Christmas.
Handicap winner at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and a Grade 1 winner at the Punchestown Festival. However, he’s not looked as good so far this season including when behind some of these last-time.
Probably had his day in the sun when a 33/1 winner of last season’s Irish Gold Cup, where he may well have handled the ground better than his more fancied rivals. Not hit the same heights since and may find the ground too quick for him this year.
His fifth in the Savills Chase at Christmas was the first time in seven runs at Leopardstown that he had finished out of the frame. Those runs included four wins and an agonising neck second to Edwulf last year. Only the great Beef Or Salmon has won this as an 11-year-old and he’s never quite been on the same league as him.
Won on both his previous starts at Leopardstown, which where a bumper and the Paddy Power Chase. However, he has around a stone to find with the top-rated horses, and connections may simply be getting him fit before going handicapping at some of the big spring festivals.
Irish Gold Cup Summary
The likelihood of decent ground this year may well reduce the chance of another shock winner, and it could pay to concentrate on the quartet that are priced-up at single figures, Road To Respect, Al Boum Photo, Bellshill, and Monalee.
I’m happy to be against Monalee as I think he’s slightly better at shorter trips whilst. I’m also happy to take on Road To Respect, who has the form to win, but comes from a stable that has yet to win this race.
That leaves us with a choice between the Willie Mullins trained pair of Al Boum Photo and Bellshill, and I’m going to take a chance that Ruby Walsh has picked the wrong one in Bellshill, who has yet to convince at the course.
That leaves Al Boum Photo, who was second on his only previous visit to Leopardstown but has looked to improve with each run since. He would have followed his grade one win at Fairyhouse last season with another top-level success at Punchestown, but for running out, and the form of his last win looks rock solid.
Irish Gold Cup Tip:
Al Boum Photo @ 4.50 BetVictor, Ladbrokes, Coral