The Haldon Gold Cup (Tuesday 2.20) may only be a Grade-2 Handicap Chase, but it has an enviable roll of honour. The last 4 winners have been Vibrato Valtat, Gods Own, Somersby and Cue Card, but go back further and you’ll see the names of Azertyioup, Best Mate, Edrdon Bleu, Flagship Uberalles, Viking Flagship, Travado and Waterloo Boy.
The race itself takes place over 2-miles 1½-furlongs and 12 fences at Exeter, and is named after the high ground on which the racecourse is built. The last 10 renewals have been won by horses aged between 6 and 10, whilst weights between 10-4 and 11-10 have been carried to victory. Only champions Paul Nicholls and Richard Johnson have won the contest twice in the last 10 years.
8 runners are set to line-up for the 2016 Haldon Gold Cup.
Winning a handicap off a mark of 163 isn’t easy to do, but Impek won the 2006 renewal with top-weight off a mark of 163. The handicapper has also been pretty generous in dropping the Paul Nicholls’ trained 2015 Champion Chase winner 8lb after last season, a season which was blighted by injury. However, he didn’t look far off his best when third in the Celebration Chase in April, splitting Un Des Sceaux and Sire De Grugy.
Garde Le Victoire
This high-class handicap hurdler always looked an embryonic chaser, and big things were expected of him when he won his first two novice chases last season. However, he blundered badly in the top novice chases at Cheltenham and Aintree, but showed his well-being with victory off 148 in a handicap hurdle on his return. Rated 151 here, and carries less than 11-0 for the first time in his life over jumps.
Likeable sort, but remains 6lb higher than his last winning mark, and has yet to run against opponents as classy as the top two.
Pain Au Chocolat
Achieved a high-rating in novice hurdles and novice chases, but yet to test that rating against seasoned horses. Get the chance to here off a light-weight.
Been consistent over hurdles and fences of late without winning, and continues to creep up the handicap ratings.
Back down to his last winning mark, but looked woefully out of sorts on his last run.
The only runner to have won over fences at Exeter, but 7lb above his last winning mark, and not cut it in this class on his last two runs.
Has the odd bit of form that suggests he could run a decent race off his current mark with a light-weight, and should like the ground.
Haldon Gold Cup Tip
The bottom 6 runners are set to carry much lighter-weights than they usually carry, but they do have to take on two very classy horse in Dodging Bullets and Garde La Victoire. Former Champion Chaser Dodging Bullets is not dismissed easily, but the vote is given to Garde La Victoire. Phillip Hobbs’ 7-year-old has never had the chance to carry less than 11-0 in a handicap and, despite reservations about his jumping, if he is to make up into a top-class chaser he must win today in receipt of 12lb from the top-weight.
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