Paul Nicholls took the Guinness Gold Cup in 2007 and 2008 courtesy of Neptune Collonges and the English Champion Trainer can plunder prize again this evening with Kauto Star (5:30).
The feature on day two lacks any real strength in depth and an on-song Kauto Star should have little trouble disposing of Nacarat and Kempes.
A workmanlike winner at Down Royal in November, the 11-year-old bounced back from a disappointing defeat in the King George, to go down all guns blazing in the Gold Cup behind Long Run.
Despite winning two Gold Cup’s, his record racing right-handed is incredible, having won 9 on the bounce racing this way around before this season’s King George. Those successes all came in Grade 1 company and included a brace Tingle Creeks at Sandown, a pair of Down Royal Champion Chases, an Ascot Chase and, of course, his quartet of King George successes at Kempton.
A true great of jumps racing, he can strike on his first trip to Punchestown and the 11/8 on offer with Ladbrokes and Boylesports seems more than fair.
The Grade 1 Champion Bumper looks a cracking contest, in which market leader Waaheb will carry the green and gold hoops of JP McManus for the first time. Dermot Weld’s four-year-old has looked the real deal so far and he could well go and win well, but he faces a bunch of equally exciting youngsters here, and his price doesn’t represent much value (11/10 with Paddy Power on Tuesday evening).
Impressive Aintree winner Steps Of Freedom and the third and fourth home from the Cheltenham Champion Bumper have stronger form in the book, while Lovethehigherlaw was thought to be right up the pecking order among the Mullins bumper horses earlier in the season. This really is a race to watch with the future in mind.
Earlier on the card Mossey Joe (4:55) is worth an each-way bet in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle, arriving here on the back of a lengthy break.
A dual points winner and successful in a hunter chase before making a winning hurdles debut in a Grade 3 at Cork in December, he was sent off at just 100/30 against Mourad when last seen at Christmas.
Unsuited by the heavy ground that day, he travelled better than anything with the exception of the winner, before fading in the home straight. It isn’t hard to envisage him travelling strongly once again here; he is 8/1 overnight (Bet365 paying ¼ odds).
The pick of the domestic action comes from Chester, where the feature on day one of the May meeting is the Chester Cup.
As ever the extended 2m2f handicap looks fiercely competitive, but I’m prepared to give another chance to the enigmatic Darley Sun (2:55) who could be the type to go well fresh and out-run his odds of 20/1.
This time last year I expected him to make up in to an Ascot Gold Cup candidate, following his brilliant Cesarewitch win in October 2009 and his subsequent switch to Godolphin, but things didn’t pan out last season.
The son of Tiger Hill has dropped to a mark just 7lbs higher than that Cesarewitch success and it should be remembered that he’s only five and could well still develop in to a Group class stayer.
He certainly has his quirks, but he might just be able to travel in the middle of the big field around the tight track and he is worth a small interest each-way with Ladbrokes.