Matt Tombs / Wednesday 19th March 2014 / 11:00
The Gold Cup looked more open than the market suggested and it wasn’t a big surprise to see the first double figure priced winner of the century. The result was as unsatisfactory as the Champion Hurdle though, with the main protagonists either wandering badly on the run in or being carried sideways.
Lord Windermere was detached for much of the first circuit but gradually worked his way into the race and came with a strong run coming to the last. He might have been affected by Silviniaco Conti who drifted badly right, but Lord Windermere went right shortly after the last and than again close home, carrying On His Own and The Giant Bolster. He might have been a slightly fortunate winner, but he would have been more unfortunate to lose the race in the stewards room, (12/1 to retain his crown doesn’t appeal).
On His Own had been supplemented when the other Mullins horses fell by the wayside. Successful off 142 in the Thyestes in January he was taking a big step up in class. He was closing in the dying strides and connections can feel a bit hard done by. He helps set the level of the form as a fair bit below average Gold Cup standard. The fact that connections decided not to appeal – understandably saying that if you don’t win it on the day you don’t really want to get it on another day – was a great advert for sporting behaviour in defeat. He’s 20/1 to gain compensation next year.
The Giant Bolster was unlucky on two counts. Like the winner, he never seemed to be travelling, but he came there two out only for On His Own to jump across him and bump him out of the way, and then he was carried farthest right of all on the run in. Having now finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the race he’s been a great servant – but he’s surely missed his chance now (33/1).
When Silviniaco Conti was leading, still pretty much on the bridle, heading to 2 out, I thought he might win decisively. It was unexpected that he wandered about all over the place on the run in and he was arguably the cause of the problems suffered by the first three home. This was a 2nd run that promised so much in a Gold Cup, that’s ended in a bad experience, and it’s hard to imagine him winning the race now, (16/1).
It wasn’t a surprise to see Bobs Worth tapped for toe coming down the hill, but as usual his stamina kicked into play and he looked to have every chance coming to the last. He’s always been as tough as nails so it was incredible to see him going sidewise (left unlike the others) and throwing away his chance. I can’t see him emulating Kauto Star and regaining the Gold Cup, (10/1).
It didn’t look a great field for the Triumph but it produced a taking winner in Tiger Roll. Unlike most Triumph winners he didn’t run on the flat and came here after just 2 runs (both over hurdles.) He clearly learnt a lot from his Grade 1 2nd at Leopardstown on much slower ground and whilst it’s notoriously tough for juveniles in their second season, he might be up to it, (33/1 for the Champion Hurdle looks on the generous side).
The hard luck story of the race was Calipto. He was going well when Daryl Jacob’s stirrup broke 2 out and he lost his irons. Beaten only 8¾l he deserves a chance to show what he can do with a clear run. He’s also 33/1 for the Champion Hurdle.
The Albert Bartlett looked to have plenty of depth to it. Favourite Briar Hill crashed out midway and one of the outsiders, Very Wood, stayed on powerfully to score decisively in the end. As a point winner having his first try beyond 2½m under rules, he was entitled to improve, but he did so dramatically. He’d looked really green when throwing away his chance in a Grade 3 at Navan in the autumn and had run just decently behind The Tullow Tank and Briar Hill since. Cheekpieces certainly seemed to help here and it’ll be interesting to see whether he goes on from this, (25/1 for the World Hurdle and 16/1 for the RSA.)
Deputy Dan looked to have made the decisive move when kicked clear approaching the last. Whilst he didn’t jump it that fluently, it looked more a case of his being outstayed up the hill. He might benefit from a drop back in trip and, given he still looks a bit green, he might be the one to take out of the race.
The Foxhunter had cut up and I made the mistake of trying to be a bit too clever in picking out an unexposed improver in Certain Flight. The best form was clearly from the two big hunters at Down Royal and Leopardstown contested by Tammy’s Hill and On The Fringe. Tammy’s Hill had won a shade more comfortably than the bare result last time, (given ultra confident ride) and yet he was allowed to go off 15/2. He had had problems travelling away from home before but there was no repetition this time and he won decisively in the end. He should continue to be a force in hunter chases, and would be interesting in the Irish National from around is his current mark of 134.
The other one to take out of the race was Harbour Court. He’d been very impressive in a couple of novice hunters last year and, after getting knocked over at Kelso, bolted up in a point. He apparently finished distressed, (beaten 11½l). If there are no lasting effects, he remains a bright prospect for this division.
I’d really fancied Arctic Fire for the County Hurdle if he didn’t let the occasion get to him (he didn’t) but events conspired against him. The watering was very much against him, and Ruby Walsh was injured in the previous race. You couldn’t criticise David Casey at all for the ride, but there was the feeling that a sprinkling of the Ruby magic might have got the half a length needed. He remains a fine prospect back on genuinely good ground and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him turn over some of those from the Supreme in the 2m novice Grade 1 at Punchestown.
The horse who edged him out was Lac Fontana who, a blip in November aside, had been a really progressive second season novice. He looks the type who will thrive in fast run handicaps as he’s a bit idle - he might not be suited by small field Grade 1 novices this spring. This looked strong form and it might be can defy a rise, (ran off 139 here.)
Montbazon was having just his 2nd run back after 2 years off following a good 4th in the 2012 Supreme. He was in front approaching the last and its possible that he will improve again for the run. He looks Arkle material for next season if he stays in one piece.
Diakali ran a blinder off top weight (154). It was hard to know what to make of his form when winning a 4 year olds Grade 1 in France in the summer and then being 3rd to Jezki in the Hatton’s Grace. His flat pedigree doesn’t scream that he wants a switch to fences but he appears the right type and would look to be a candidate for the Arkle or JLT if making the switch successfully.
The Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle looked as competitive as ever. Given the amount of firepower he has, logic suggested Willie Mullins ought to have one or two that were well enough handicapped to win at the Festival and Don Poli did the business. He only made his debut for Mullins at Christmas and came into this something of an unknown quantity, having won a Grade 3 novice over 3m last time. The 5 year old was winning off 143 here and looks like a 3 mile chaser so could easily be an RSA horse next season, (14/1).
The hard luck story of the race was Urbain De Sivola who got left at a scrappy start and was only beaten 7½l in the end, rather summing up the week for Paul Nicholls. He looks one to have onside in handicaps this spring.
The Grand Annual provided an amazing four timer for Gigginstown, (making me grateful my bets are done online these days as I’d have thrown my leading owner slip away had it been paper). Savello hadn’t looked an obvious type for this having been out of form this season, but was backed from 33/1 into 16/1. That might have been accumulators running up but equally it suggested the ultra shrewd Tony Martin yard fancied his chances. He was winning off 147 here, and with the paucity of high class 2m chasers, he might be a contender for the plethora of graded races around 2m in Ireland next season.
Ned Buntline has long been held in high regard by Noel Meade, and on just his 4th chase start ran a blinder to be beaten only 1¼l. He’s starting to fulfil his potential and he shouldn’t be underestimated if contesting the 2m Grade 1 novice at Punchestown.
Claret Cloak loves decent ground and had been off since running in the Henry VIII in December. He crashed through the 2nd last and lost plenty of momentum - he would have gone very close otherwise. Next Sensation was given a cut-throat ride but found plenty for pressure and was only beaten 2l. With slightly less forcing tactics he might gain compensation at Aintree, where the Red Rum looks made for him.
It was a fantastic week’s racing and a good punting week. The column made a 34pt or 130% profit on settled bets. There were some frustrating near misses on Friday that might have made it a great week, but we had some luck earlier on, so it felt like a case of things evening out over the meeting. I hope you made a few quid from the winners.
I’m always keen on an ante-post bet or two in the spring for next year’s Festival and this year it’s a no-brainer. Dynaste looked all about stamina in the Ryanair and nothing that ran in the Gold Cup looks a likely winner next season. If Champagne Fever gets the trip he’ll be a danger but Dynaste is a proven class act over fences and can emulate Imperial Commander by following up his Ryanair win in the Gold Cup.
You always have to clear your mind in this sort of situation to make sure that you’re not just backing him because you fancied him this year – I’ve done that and I think it’s arguable he should be favourite. He’s a must bet at 25/1.
1pt Dynaste to win the 2015 Gold Cup @ 25/1