This year’s Paddy Power Gold Cup is arguably the best line up of this famous race since it was first ran in 1960.
With the likes of Grands Crus and Al Ferof, the vast majority of this year’s field looks very stylish and we look set for a super competitive race.
Huntball looks to continue the fairy tale as he takes a real step up in class from last year’s heroics and will bring an army of fans in the process.
With the retirement of Kauto Star Huntball looks the perfect replacement as the fan’s favourite after moving up the ratings last year, like never before.
I can’t ever remember seeing a field with such a competitive race between the grey horses.
With Grands Crus, Al Ferof, Walkon and Divers all around the top of the betting, it would be surprising a grey doesn’t win this race.
With last year’s winner Great Endeavour also a grey there is a trending factor that surrounds the race.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup is the first major handicap race of the season and fans will flock in their numbers to see some of the finest chasers on the planet.
Our review of the leading contenders
Best Price: Coral 9/4
David Pipes super talented grey had a near-perfect novice season last year, producing some electric performances before disappointing many when finishing 4th in the RSA at the festival.
Many have tried to understand how Grands Crus lost in such disappointing circumstances in that race. Some have even questioned his stamina, but I find it very hard to believe that a horse that chased home Big Bucks over 3m has stamina issues.
My theory is the break in which he was given after that thumping victory in the Feltham on Boxing Day.
He is running fresh again and I think Pipe will have put him through his paces to make sure he is sharp.
However, bar fitness questions, there is little to oppose Grands Crus.
He is well in the weights at 11-6 and if he can produce anything close to the form from that Boxing Day romp, he will take all the beating.
Some people are relating Grands Crus to a similar situation 2 years ago when Long Run went off 2/1 favourite and got beat.
However, Long Run made a lot of minor jumping mistakes that race, which all builds up in a competitive handicap, but Grands Crus looked a much more consistent jumper than Long Run last season.
At 2/1 with most bookmakers, Grands Crus is very short for such a competitive race. Very few favourites win this race so it will be interesting if Grands Crus can defy that trend.
Best Price: Ladbrokes 11/2
From the favourite to the crowd favourite as Huntball hopes to extend the incredible journey he and eccentric owner Anthony Knott have taken over the last 12 months.
Starting last season with an official rating of 69 his fairy tale ride meant he ended last season at Aintree off an OR of 154.
That rise of fame has also led to a rise in the handicaps and he will be going off the same 11-6 that Grands Crus.
The amount of improvement over the course of last year will be encouraging for fans if he has more in the tank to give.
He is not as classy as Grands Crus, but has there ever being a horse that has rose to fame over such a short period of time?
Owner Knott is certain that his 7-year-old is in tip top shape and has also referred Huntball to the “Frankel of the jumps”.
One things for sure, should Huntball win or lose, there will be large sections of the crowd roaring him up the hill in appreciation of his achievements.
Best Price: Paddy Power 15/2
Al Ferof had a mixed first season over fences last season, but still looked a very talented chaser.
A jumping error in the Arkle forced him out of contention in a race which Sprinter Sacre reversed the Supreme Novices form to take very easily.
He failed to bounce back at Aintree when defeated by Menorah but he is very well thought of by Paul Nicholls and goes well fresh.
He is given away weight to both Grands Crus and Huntball but could be the dark horse in this race.
Few thought he would go for this and I can see him going really well however I think he probably needs a bigger trip in the future.
Best Price: Coral 9/1
It is hard to understand where Alan King wants to go with this 7-year-old. He had him running 2m for most of the season but then raced him at Ayr in the 4m Scottish National at the end of the season.
He was quoted as saying this is the best chance he has ever had of winning the prestigious handicap, but if 2m5f is his distance, what on earth was he doing in a 4m last season?
Alan King still has a fantastic 7-year-old on his hands and is well handicapped at 10-6.
I expect an improvement on last year and off a good handicap mark, I wouldn’t put it past him taken this but he has a lot of top chasers to beat, chasers much classier than this.
Best of the rest:
Best Price: Coral 18/1
Divers has always loved Cheltenham and ran a great race in this race last year. He was very much out of sorts last month at Cheltenham, but it is no secret this grey needs good ground.
Trainer Ferdy Murphy believes he is very much in contention and is off a very appealing weight at 10-1.
If the rain holds back, and the ground is good, he could become a very good each way bet at 16/1.