All eyes will be on Leopardstown on Saturday afternoon (3.40pm), when the Irish Gold Cup may throw-up a few Cheltenham Festival clues, though this grade-1 race is very much a big target in it’s own right.
Willie Mullins, unsurprisingly, has won 9 of the last 17 renewals, whilst Ruby Walsh is the only jockey to have ridden two winners in the last decade.
The last 8 renewals have been won by two 7-year-olds, three 8-year-olds, and three 9-year-olds, and the only horses to have been aged 10 or older in the last 20 years have been the multiple winning Florida Pearl and Beef or Salmon.
There are 10 possible runners for this year’s renewal – so let’s take a look.
Carlingford Lough 14/1
Last year’s winner bids to double-up at the age of 10, and his big-price is mainly due to him running a shocker in the Lexus at Christmas. However, he did that the year before and could outrun his odds.
Fine Rightly 66/1
Failed to win a course handicap off 147 last time, and needs to find more than a stone of improvement to play a hand. Also looked a non-stayer at this trip on his only try.
First Lieutenant 8/1
The 11-year-old deserves to win a big one here, after being third in this in 2014, and three-times finishing runner-up in the Lexus, but he often seems to be the bridesmaid.
Second to Carlingford Lough last year, and third in this season’s Lexus, but just seems to get run out of things at the business end.
Highly-regarded horse, but still has plenty to find to take a hand in this. Could only manage fourth place in a course and distance handicap off a mark of 150, and didn’t look to really appreciate the trip.
On His Own 12/1
Grand old servant who very nearly won the Cheltenham Gold Cup two years ago, but finished fourth behind a few of these last time. Tends to improve as the season goes on, but probably won’t get an easy lead.
Road To Riches 4/5
Won the 2014 Lexus before finishing third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and will prove very hard to beat if turning up in A1 condition. Happy to front run, and the other might never get to him. Top-rated by 5lb.
Sir Des Champs 16/1
Won this in 2013 before finishing second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and he’d have every chance on that form. The trouble is he’s not looked anything like the same horse since returning from injury.
Valseur Lido 20/1
3-miles is definitely his trip, and would be very interesting if Ruby Walsh rides him, as his price would surely tumble. Found the King George a bit hot, but this course should suit better.
Wounded Warrior 20/1
Finished over 2-lengths behind Valseur Lido at the Punchestown Festival, and no obvious reason why he’ll turn around the form.
It’s no surprise to see Road To Riches at odds-on, and it will be even less of a surprise if he wins. However, at the prices, a small each-way bet on Valseur Lido might pay dividends at this stage, especially as these could be his perfect conditions, and Ruby Walsh may ride him for prolific winning trainer Willie Mullins.
Valseur Lido each-way @ 20/1 (Betfair Sportsbook)