Matt Tombs / Tuesday 7th January 2014 / 13:00
1pt Dynaste to win the Gold Cup – 25/1 NRNB
Thank goodness for bet365, who’ve gone non runner, no bet on the 4 championship races at the Festival. After several years of innovation by bookmakers, (in response in part to the growing threat from the exchanges), I’d been concerned that innovation was grinding to a halt over the last season or so.
It’s often easiest to derive value from new betting media, as the market hasn’t worked them out yet – so this sort of innovation is great for punters. It’s not quite true to describe bet365’s NRNB as a new innovation as, 2 seasons ago, Ladbrokes went NRNB on those 4 championship races before Christmas, but last season the only NRNB market before February was on the Gold Cup, by sponsors Betfred.
I’ve mentioned before that most bookmakers don’t shorten many of horses enough when going NRNB. That’s because they tend to focus only on high profile horses with multiple potential targets. They often fail to look at horses with decent chances if they line up, a little further down the list – so there should be plenty of value.
The market I’m interested in is the Gold Cup. The important preliminary point about the race is that is usually won by a horse with speed as well as stamina. In the last decade it has fallen to Best Mate (2nd in the Supreme and favourite for the Arkle when the Festival was cancelled,) Kicking King (2nd in the Supreme and Arkle) and War of Attrition, (2nd in the Supreme and 7th in the Arkle). Kauto Star then won twice (having run in the Champion Chase the year before his first win,) his wins split by Denman, (2nd in the Neptune). Imperial Commander, (won the Ryanair the previous season,) and Long Run, (won a Grade 2 over 2m the season before his Gold Cup win,) completed a clean sweep for horses with lots of toe, (several of whom were considered doubtful stayers before winning.).
With fast horses, (who obviously also stayed well,) always winning the race, if you’d read a preview a couple of years ago, out and out stayers were being dismissed as being too slow to win the Gold Cup. People have short memories. Synchronised, who had never run over less than 2m6f over fences and had been winning marathon chases, then won a bad Gold Cup. Last season’s winner Bobs Worth won the 3m Albert Bartlett as a novice hurdler and whilst a really classy stayer, has less speed than any of the winners mentioned bar Synchronised. He won the Gold Cup in the slowest time since 1989, having looked beaten for much of the way. Its likely normal service will be resumed this year and a horse with speed as well as stamina will win.
Bobs Worth (9/4) and Silviniaco Conti (7/2) deserve to be at the top of the market on form but neither are the bomb proof proposition I’d want, to be backing them at the prices. I’m not sure what Bobs Worth beat in the Lexus and I can still see him getting done for toe in a good ground Gold Cup. Silviniaco Conti had a nasty fall in last year’s renewal and has to prove his effectiveness at the track. I’m not saying either won’t win, just that they’re not great value, (and unlikely to shorten much.)
The most fascinating runner is Cue Card (8/1) who I had a few quid on at 10/1 after he was a hugely impressive winner of the Betfair Chase. Unfortunately, he then fell in a hole with the King George at his mercy. Ground will be crucial to him and if he gets a sound surface I think he might get home. Given he likes to be up with the pace, judging that pace will be crucial and that may be a big ask for his jockey. He obviously may run in the Ryanair, (7/1 NRNB.) Given the uncertainties and that if he does run there’ll be plenty willing to take him on because of the stamina question – I’m not sure he’ll shorten much from 7/1.
First Lieutenant (12/1) has run in 9 chases over 3m or more and has been beaten in 8, often outstayed by the likes of Bobs Worth, Tidal Bay and Sir Des Champs. His only win over the trip, (and only win in his last 14 races,) was beating an even more suspect stayer, Menorah, ¾l at Aintree over 3m1f. He’s a classy horse and is at his best on good ground in the spring – but I still think the Ryanair is his race. Mouse Morris clearly wants to run him in the Gold Cup and with Sir Des Champs injured, that’s now more likely as unless Last Instalment or Bog Warrior recover from serious injuries, Gigginstown would otherwise be without a runner in the blue riband.
It’s 20/1 bar the 4 and looks the sort of market where there ought to be a springer. It could be Al Ferof (20/1,) who was heavily backed into 5/1 for his first try at 3m in the King George and was a fair 14½l 3rd to stablemate Silviniaco Conti, without ever threatening. The vibes from Paul Nicholls are that the Ryanair is the more likely option – he’s likely to run in the Denman Chase (3m) at Newbury next. He’s 16/1 NRNB, which is tempting, but my gut feel is he’ll go for the Ryanair.
Boston Bob is 25/1 both ante-post and NRNB. He won over hurdles the other day and looked to be heading for the World Hurdle. However, with Sir Des Champs ruled out, Willie Mullins might be tempted to try him over fences again. 25/1 NRNB might be generous – but he has to prove he can jump fences and he does look to need plenty of cut in the ground - he’s the sort I’d look at nearer the Festival.
Rubi Ball (33/1) is something of an unknown quantity. He won France’s big autumn chase, the Prix La Haye Jousselin, at Auteuil in 2010 and 2011, both on heavy ground. That’s over an extended 3m3f, so even allowing for the crawl-sprint nature of many French races he ought to get the Gold Cup trip. Given the Mullins staying chasers tend to improve a lot from the Lexus, and Rubi Ball has only 2½l to find with Bobs Worth, 33/1 might be a big price. The issue is ground – he apparently needs plenty of cut. 25/1 NRNB is tempting – but I’m not sure how strong that Lexus form is.
The one to back is Dynaste (33/1). He was 4/5 as a novice last season, his only defeat coming in the Jewson over 2m4f where he was outspeeded close home by Benefficient. However, the winner has won an open Grade 1 at 2m1f this season. Dynaste showed enough boot to finish just ahead of Module, (neck 2nd off 152 in the Haldon this season,) and Captain Conan, (7¼l 3rd in the Tingle Creek.) Whilst he might have been better off in the RSA with the benefit of hindsight, his Jewson run showed he has the tactical speed that Gold Cup winners generally need. He stayed well over hurdles and it might well be that the Gold Cup trip will prove ideal.
On his return this season he was an excellent 4½l 2nd to Cue Card in the Betfair, ahead of Silviniaco Conti and Bobs Worth. With Cue Card having had the benefit of a run at Haydock, Dynaste was then backed into joint favouritism for the King George.
He ran no sort of race at Kempton and came back sore behind, so has a legitimate excuse. He’s having treatment but David Pipe reports he’s on course to run at the Festival, although he’s keeping his options open between the Gold Cup and the Ryanair. Given he’s looked much better suited by 3m+ than around 2m5f, I’d be surprised if he ran in the Ryanair unless the ground was bad.
He needs to prove his wellbeing and there’s the chance he could run in the Ryanair so he is risky ante-post, but he’s 25/1 NRNB and that must seriously underestimate his chances. In the last 15 years, Imperial Commander, Looks Like Trouble and See More Business have all won the Gold Cup after bombing in the King George. Dynaste looks just the type who might bounce back in the same way.
4 of the last 10 winners were 2nd season chasers, and Dynaste has much more capacity for improvement than his main rivals. If he lines up then I think he’ll be around half his 25/1 NRNB price on the day even if he doesn’t run again in between. If he were to recover quickly and win one of the key trials, he’ll be one of the favourites.
This looks a classic case of a fairly likely runner who is far too big a price with a run. He therefore must be backed at 25/1 NRNB.