Bet365 Gold Cup
The final day of the UK jumps season is often a great one to watch – especially if the sun is beaming down. It is no surprise that the bet365 Gold Cup is the big betting race of the day, being a classic staying handicap chase. You often have to expect long term handicap plots at the Cheltenham Festival, but often not at many other times of the jump racing calendar, however one has really caught my eye as being laid out for this day.
Irish Prophecy has generally been kept to a sound surface, which unless there is a barrage of rain in Esher, he should get here. He is completely unexposed as a stayer, having only had three runs at around three miles (with form figures of 321).
The second was in handicap company when only a length behind El Presente, who has won a further twice since. After that run at Exeter, Irish Prophecy dotted up at Taunton (would still have won if the would-have-been second hadn’t fallen at the last), improving again on his previous effort.
That was back in November and interestingly, he’s only had one outing since, that was over hurdles at the end of March, which would appear to be a warmup for Sandown.
After his Taunton win, trainer Emma Lavelle labelled this contest as a big spring target. So, I like the way he’s been laid out for this and given a little spin over hurdles as a preparation whilst preserving his handicap mark. He boasts some seriously strong form back at the beginning of his career, with a beating of Champ in a bumper and second to Kalashnikov over hurdles the pick of it.
It seems to have taken him a while to start fulfilling that early potential, but his recent efforts suggest he is well on his way to doing so now. There is loads to like about him for this race given he is a course winner, a strong stayer who is unexposed and evidently has a lot of ability.
Currently rated 142 he should still be able to improve upon that given the overall look of his form.
Back Irish Prophecy @ 25/1 Each Way
Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle
Vanillier tore the field apart in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival and if in the same form, has a fair chance of doing the same at Punchestown. Stattler could well oppose again but he has been behind Vanillier on a couple of occasions now and it would be difficult to see him reversing the form here.
There is a standout bet at the prices for me here and that’s Farouk D’alene for Denise Foster.
Firstly, it was a great decision not to go to Cheltenham with him, as he’s already shown he’s not as comfortable going left handed as he consistently jumped to the right at Navan. Finishing fourth there was not an awful result by any means, but it was over 2m4f as well which was too short.
He is a huge stamp of a horse and appears an out and out stayer. He galloped them into submission at Down Royal in October. When upped to just shy of three miles in a Grade 2 at Limerick, he showed his staying prowess when beating none other than Vanillier.
The fact he has been freshened up after that gruelling test is surely a positive compared to the favourite. Farouk D’alene is a very talented horse whose RPR’s have improved with every run and this three mile test will suit him down to the ground.
Why he is three times the price of Vanillier I have absolutely no idea, as this contest looks tailor-made for him. His only defeat came in that aforementioned Navan race and I think he’ll continue to maintain his unbeaten right-handed record at Punchestown and claim his first Grade 1.
Back Farouk D’alene @ 12/1
Aidan O’Brien has won four of the last six renewals and has the first three in the market this time around. So, you’d have to say his chances of making it five of the last seven is pretty decent.
Battleground would be top of the O’Brien list for me. He looked very uncomplicated last season and given his size and scope, should have progressed over the winter. Being a son of Found, there will always be an element of expectation surrounding him. But personally, it is the other side of his pedigree that concerns me more. I like War Front’s as juveniles, but often find that they don’t progress a great deal. There are obviously some exceptions, US Navy Flag for example who won a July Cup at 3, but I would be one for seeing some evidence of progression from a War Front before putting my money down.
The opening classic of the season has eluded Charlie Appleby, despite having some strong representatives. Masar and Pinatubo notably both going off favourite in 2018 and 2020 respectively. Even though he doesn’t have the market leader this time around, I think One Ruler could be as good a chance he’s had of winning the race.
He’s never been out of the first three in five starts, winning two. But everywhere you look, his form stacks up.
Beaten by Etonian on debut who won the Solario. He then beat Maximal and Latest Generation who both won next time before finishing a hampered third to New Mandate, who went on to win the Royal Lodge. One Ruler beat Van Gogh in the Autumn Stakes over course and distance, despite being drawn in the middle of the track, with that form being franked as Van Gogh hosed up in a Group 1 in France subsequently. On his final start of the season, One Ruler was a narrow second to Mac Swiney in the Vertem Futurity at Doncaster on heavy ground, with the latter having already shown his prowess in the mud, when beating Cadillac in similar conditions.
In the circumstances, I think that was a really good effort from One Ruler. The Vertem Futurity has been a key form guide recently too, with the last three 2000 Guineas victors all winning that contest the previous season.
One Ruler is a course and distance winner, his form stacks up everywhere you look and he is versatile ground wise. He is really solid in all departments and I think the rest will have to go some to beat him.
Back One Ruler @ 10/1
There has been a big move in this market in recent weeks. As positive vibes came out of Ballydoyle about Santa Barbara, her price has continued to tumble. If she is indeed built like a five year old colt (as Aidan O’Brien has mentioned), the rest of the field may be playing for places. However, she has had one run in a maiden.
2/1 is absolutely bonkers in my view. She has barely had experience of racing, let alone against Group 1 opponents at a unique track she has never visited. If she wins, fine, but this game is about value and she provides none.
At 7/1, the second favourite Pretty Gorgeous is a far better bet to me. She’s a good size filly herself and she did very well as a juvenile, winning three of her five starts, culminating in the Group 1 Fillies Mile over course and distance.
She was also second in the Moyglare and both of those races have been key form guides in recent years with Minding, Hermosa and Love all having competed in both events before winning the 1000 Guineas.
A bit like One Ruler, she is solid in all departments. Pretty Gorgeous beat the best of the Irish and the British as a two year old, is versatile with regards to ground, has won over the course and distance as well as being uncomplicated.
She ticks all the right boxes and one of the much lesser-raced fillies will have to improve a chunk to beat her.
Back Pretty Gorgeous @ 7/1
Previous Ante Post bets from Alex were as follows>
Back Brentford Hope @ 7/1 / NR
Back King Ottokar @ 14/1 Each Way Unplaced
Back Any Second Now @ 12/1 Each Way / – 3rd 15/2
Back Burrows Saint @ 16/1 Each Way – 4th 9/1
Back Hogan’s Height @ 50/1 Each Way – Unplaced