Cheltenham’s Open meeting is the weekend highlight with the feature event the Paddy Power Gold Cup; we at victorchandler.com are betting 1/3 odds 1,2,3,4 on the race and the market is led by Mon Parrain trained by Champion trainer Paul Nicholls who has yet to saddle the winner in his illustrious career to date.
It is well documented that this has never been the luckiest of races for the Ditcheat handler, but the horse is held in the very highest regard by connections and it was significant that the horse had a racecourse gallop recently with big guns Kauto Star and Big Buck’s at Exeter.
Mon Parrain won five races in France before coming over to join Nicholls and on his first start he turned a, seemingly, competitive race at Sandown into a procession. He looked all over the winner at Aintree on his next start but was run out of it after the elbow. He had jumped the National fences magnificently and looks sure to give it a bold shot but Gold Cup winner Long Run was beaten in the corresponding race at 2/1 last year and at the current odds of 3/1 I will look elsewhere although if he drifts out to 9/2 on the day (which is unlikely) he is worth a saver.
It really is a cracking race and there are any number of dangers but I am going to give another chance to Great Endeavour (2.35) who disappointed in the corresponding race last year, but has ideal conditions and has often hinted that he could go to the very top for David Pipe whose father had such an outstanding record in the race. The selection only receives 5lbs from the favourite but if Timmy Murphy can get him into a nice jumping rhythm then I think he could cause a bit of a shock; he is currently 14/1 and 1/3 first 4 I would be disappointed if he couldn’t make a place at least.
The dogs have been barking Hinterland (1.20) in the opener for some time and the juvenile hurdler makes his eagerly awaited British debut for Paul Nicholls having landed a listed hurdle at Auteuil when trained by Guillaume Macaire back in May. It is possible that softer ground than he will encounter at Cheltenham will be his optimum conditions but he is given the nod and should be followed until beaten.
Cantlow is a horse I am interested in this term but I can’t help but think the concession of 15lbs to the Nicholls’ runner Oscargo (3.10) will be too much; the way Cantlow tanked through his race at Wetherby last time I’m not convinced he’s an out and out stayer and the selection’s Chepstow win has been franked by the recent successes of both the second and third.
Tenor Nivernais (2.55) steps up in trip for the first time on Sunday and is a sporting selection against the likely favourite Rangitoto (what a weekend it could be for Paul Nicholls). The selection was last seen running on in the Fred Winter and with Venetia Williams back among the winners in recent days he could be ahead of the handicapper. This is a very good race and there are sure to be a number of winners come out of the race in the weeks and months to come.
The horse who has created the biggest impression on me so far this term is Fingal Bay (3.30) and he can maintain his unbeaten record in the Grade 2 Novice Hurdle for Philip Hobbs; he gives weight to many of the principles but I would be disappointed if he were not up to the task although this is the fastest ground he has encountered to date.
Back to Saturday and great to see Quel Esprit (12.50) back for Willie Mullins at Naas; he could yet be a Gold Cup horse having had little luck in his novice chase campaign especially at Punchestown when brought down when still going very well.
There is a terrific beginners chase at Uttoxeter with Emma Lavelle’s Chariot Charger returning from a long lay off; the stable had a treble at Exeter midweek and the absence from the course is not a concern but Universal Soldier (12.55) can also go well fresh and has always looked as if he could make up into a decent chaser in time for his talented trainer.
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