Exactly a week ago, 6 of us gathered at Prestbury Park on a beautiful Autumn day to record our Jump Season Preview Video. Obviously on video you are limited with regards to time, so seeing as we now have the entries for the Paddy Power Gold Cup – watch video preview – these are my full thoughts on the race. Over the next week my thoughts on the Hennessy Gold Cup – watch video preview – will appear along with the entire transcript of my Snog, Marry and Avoid selections – watch Snog, Marry and Avoid!
The Paddy Power Gold Cup
Over the last seven days, Johns Spirit has been supported from 16/1 to 10/1. This comes as no surprise; as I said on the video I think he is thrown in. Yes, he is up ten pounds for his rather stylish victory at the Cheltenham Showcase meeting but I think he is still way ahead of the handicapper on a mark of 139. The underfoot conditions will not inconvenience him, he is equally at home on good or soft. He’s tough and takes his racing in his stride, plus the blunders of last year seem to be ironed out. Richie McLernon gets on particularly well with him and it’s worth noting that seven years ago, Jonjo O’Neill won this with another 6 year old off a mark of 139 – Exotic Dancer. At his peak Exotic Dancer reached an OR of 177. Obviously it’s hard to predict at this stage whether John’s Spirit can replicate that achievement but make no mistake, he is still seriously well in.
Of the Pipe entries, it is Salut Flo that I fear the most. He was bang in contention in the race that keeps getting renamed in December 2011, before making an almighty blunder and coming home in 12th. He then ran away with the Byrne Group Plate of 2012 (don’t even talk to me about Glam Gerry). Ballynagour is a talent but he bursts and is a trait that has been with him since his early life in the Irish Pointing field, through his spell in France and the problem rose to haunt him again in the Byrne Group Plate at the Festival. Mixed vibes are again surrounding the star turn that is Dynaste and he has the King George to aim at. Grands Crus has become an enigma with all sorts of problems and question marks hanging over his beautiful head.
Of the Green and Gold contenders, I’ll be watching Tap Night with interest at Carlisle on Sunday. It seems fitting that he should run hours after the celebrations of the Breeders Cup as he is of course US bred. Last year I fancied him for the Jewson, only to see him line up in the Arkle. Kid Cassidy is also of interest but I think his target may come when the bluebells again begin to sprout in Queens Wood, under the all seeing eye of Cleeve Hill. It all depends which head he has on too, a point that is rather overplayed, but for those of you old enough to remember Worzel Gummidge, he always reminds me of that.
My friend and colleague Rory Delargy is very keen on Rajdhani Express, in fact he even said that he wanted to snog him? Anyway, I understand why he would be keen on him for this contest; an emphatic winner of the whatever you call it on the Tuesday of the Festival, he jumped exceptionally that day which was in stark contrast to his visit to Cheltenham on Trials Day. He then slammed Tap Night by 15 lengths at Ayr. The problem that I have is that he is on 155. Of course he is I hear you cry. Well, I feel that Johns Spirit is capable of running to a mark of 150+ so therefore when I take everything into consideration, I still come back to the fact that Johns Spirit is a major blot on the handicap.
I just took a quick look at the betting and to see that Johns Spirit is a short as 15/2 with sponsors Paddy Power (affiliate link).Picture by Francesca Altoft