Paddy Power Gold Cup Preview 2015

Eastlake-Aintree-AP-McCoy-SL_3025804[1]THE Paddy Power Gold Cup has proved a graveyard for favourites over the years. Even horses of the highest of class find things difficult in this race so I’d be reluctant to be looking at anything at a single-figure price.

The two that head the market are Kings Palace and Boondooma and while both look to have excellent profiles for the race, there are enough alarm bells ringing to point me elsewhere – especially when neither are any bigger than 8-1 in the market.

Let’s start with Kings Palace. Three from five at Cheltenham and trained by David Pipe whose father, Martin, saddled no less than eight winners in this famous race, this seven-year-old appears well handicapped considering he is three from five at the track but the staying chaser is a little more complicated
than his bare form suggests.

First of all – and most importantly – there are big question marks over his jumping. Yes his win record is impressive but, throughout his career, when he has really required his jumping ability he has flopped – falling when weakening in the Albert Bartlett two seasons ago and making a bad mistake at a crucial
point in the RSA last season.

Infact, apart from a sole defeat in a bumper earlier on in his career, Kings Palace’s only defeats have come because of jumping mistakes and in the Paddy Power, with a field of 20-plus, his jumping is almost certainly going to come under pressure.

That along with a trip likely to be too sharp, he’s one I’ll be chalking off.

Boondooma is trained by one of the shrewdest around in Dr Richard Newland. While it would seem his three-length victory in a 2m handicap chase at Cheltenham last month won’t have done him any favours with regards to his weight, don’t underestimate the Doctor’s knowledge of this game as he wouldn’t be sending this lightly-raced eight-year-old into the race as a second thought. He’ll be right on the money but I think there could be a few better handicapped horses who have more improvement in them in the field and one in particular catches the eye.

Art Mauresque,
saddled by Saturday’s man-of-moment Paul Nicholls, looks to have the perfect profile for the race. As is often the case with French recruits, this five-year-old has taken a little time to come into himself. A talented but frustrating juvenile campaign was followed by a promising novice chase season where he won three times from four races where his only defeat came when well beaten in a Grade one at Aintree. He followed up with two more victories in April and May with the latter a pulsating 23-length victory
over Cash And Go at Kempton.

Remarkably, the handicapper left him unchanged on a mark of 144. After an encouraging seasonal reappearance when beaten just three lengths by Irish Cavalier, he was put up just 3lbs to 147 for an eight-length romp in a novice chase over the Paddy Power Gold Cup course and distance which should have put him spot on for this giving him a serious chance despite never running in a field of more than six before.

Nicholls looks likely to have just the two in the race with Sound Investment likely to be the other if, as expected, Ptit Zig is taken out.

Sound Investment will, however, have to shoulder top weight and he would have to be a serious horse to give weight to all of this field. That said Johns Spirit came within a head of doing just that last year but he didn’t look out of company at Grade 1 level and Sound Investment would have to be that good to win giving weight to the field.

A horse that could be up to that level is the Nicky
Henderson-trained Cocktails At Dawn.
After taking a couple of seasons to find himself, this seven-year-old bounced back to form in blistering style when winning a novice handicap chase at Sandown in April.

Henderson has claimed Cocktails At Dawn has been working his socks off during the summer and produced a lovely round of jumping to win in fine style at Chepstow last month – the third, Native River, has won subsequently – and while that win has not helped his chances in regards to his handicap mark, he could
prove to be a class above if he continues his improvement. It’s hard to see how he could be out of the places after such a glorious round of jumping at Chepstow and with William Hill paying out the first five past the post, he is worth a punt.

Of the others Buywise will most definitely run his race – as he always does – but he has had plenty of opportunities to score at this level and I’d be surprised if this proved to be his day. He has a serious engine but his unique way of getting from A to B has hindered his chances in the past and he looked,
if anything, too cautious at his fences when third behind Sound Investment in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree last month.

Present View is 1lb lower than he was when finishing two lengths behind the winner last year but his seasonal reappearance at Ascot last month was appalling and he would have to show a big improvement if he was to get involved.

Win: Art Mauresque (14-1 generally) Each-way: Cocktails At Dawn (16-1 William Hill *5 places)