Established in it’s current form in only 1999, The Punchestown Gold Cup (5.30pm 27th April) may not have the same illustrious history as the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but its short roll-of-honour does include many iconic horses including inaugural winner Imperial Call, Florida Pearl, Beef or Salmon, Kicking King, War Of Attrition, Neptune Collonges and Don Cossack.
No horse older than 9 has won the race since First Gold in 2003, with the ages of the last 10 winners being between 6 and 9, and 8-year-olds proving best with 4 wins. Meanwhile, Willie Mullins (3) and Ted Walsh (1) are the only trainers to have won the race with a runner this year. Ruby Walsh has ridden the winner 5-times and Barry Geraghty 4-times, whilst Davy Russell has won it once.
7 runners are set to go to post for this year’s renewal.
Carlingford Lough 20/1
Barry Geraghty hasn’t got a great record on him, but he comes here fresher than some after skipping Aintree. Should appreciate the trip and the going, and won the novice chase at the meeting in 2014. He also ran better at Cheltenham this year than in previous years.
Cue Card 8/13
6lb highest-rated, but looked to be a class-apart when hacking-up at Aintree from Don Poli and Djakadam. He is 10, but looks better than ever, and is a completely different horse to the one who only finished fourth last year.
Possibly needs soft/heavy ground to be at his best, and has come-up just short at this level against the very best so far in his career, including in this last year, and in the last two Cheltenham Gold Cups. Looked tired when third at Aintree, and worry that race will have left its mark.
Don Poli 7/1
Also ran at both Cheltenham and Aintree, and he seems to put a lot into his races. No reason why he should best Cue Card, but it’s worth remembering that he flopped at this meeting last year, though did run well when second in a hurdle race the year before.
Lowest-rated in the field, beaten all 3 runs here, and reserves his best for Leopardstown. Trainer has Ted Walsh has won the race before, and comes here fresh though.
Road To Riches 12/1
The drying ground should be right-up his street, but he’s got plenty to prove after being third last year, and again coming-up a bit shot in top-class races this year.
Lived-up to his name by winning 4 of his 5 races this season. Proved best at 20-furlongs on heavy ground so far, and this longer trip on quicker ground not sure to suit him.
Cue Card is a much better horse than when fourth in last year’s renewal, and should take all the beating if anywhere near his best. However, he is odds-on, and has run at both Cheltenham and Aintree, as have Djakadam and Don Poli. Therefore, if you fancy one at a big-price, it could be worth taking a chance on Carlingford Lough who can find telling finishing burst when on song.