There are 20 runners in a fascinating renewal of the Bet365 Gold Cup (Sandown 3.50) which is run over a trip of 29 furlongs and 24 fences.
The age over the last ten years hasn’t seemed significant; though all 10 winners were aged between 7 and 11.
Weight carried looks statistically a little more important with 7 of those 10 winners carrying 10-13 or less, whilst the other three carried 11-0, 11-5 and 11-12.
Paul Nicholls has 3 of the top 4 horses in the weights, but none of Rocky Creek, Unioniste and Wonderful Charm look particularly well-handicapped and are passed over. Other horses to go, on age statistics, are The Package, Vics Canvas and Algernon Pazham. Horses that also look a little out of their depth to me include Lost Legend, Bally Legend, Grandads Horse, Royal Knight, Ely Brown, Return Spring and Guess Again.
And here’s the lowdown on the rest.
Bobs Worth 12/1
The chance of the 2013 Gold Cup winner is there for all to see having dropped 21lb since his biggest triumph, and he’s now on a mark similar to when winning the 2012 Hennessey. Never looked as good right-handed though and I have my niggling doubts.
Grand Jesture 10/1
Split The Druids Nephew and Gallant Oscar at Cheltenham which looks good handicap form, and may relish this extra distance. Proven right-handed and has every chance.
La Reve 10/1
Finished 1/1/2 on his last three course starts and this has been a long-term plan. Not fully proven at the distance but is expected to stay under dual Grand National winning jockey Leighton Aspell.
Just A Par 18/1
Once very highly thought of by Paul Nicholls, and gets the chance to race with a proper handicap weight for the first-time in his career. Carries just 10-0 with ace apprentice Sean Bowen on his back, and may be the best of the Paul Nicholls runners despite being the outsider of the quartet.
Roalco De Farges 20/1
Finished 5th and 2nd the last two years but is a few pounds higher in the handicap now. A decent place chance all the same, as he did finish in front of Scottish National hero Wayward Prince on his last run; but Richard Johnson deserts him.
Duke of Lucca 14/1
Richard Johnson’s choice and can race off the same mark as when successful at Aintree. However both his last wins have come on that flat left-handed track.
Paint The Clouds 10/1
Hunter Chaser who may relish the chance to run off a featherweight, and can’t discount in the hands of ace amateur Sam Waley-Cohen.
Big Race Tip
The horses at the head of the market all have obvious chances but, at the prices, and with 5 places available, I’m putting all my eggs in one basket this week in the belief that Just A Par is going to love the step-up in trip and carrying 10-0 for the first time.
Just A Par 2 points each-way @ 18/1 (Bet365) ¼ odds 1-2-3-4-5