Bookmakers are largely siding with Paul Nicholls‘ The Knoxs in Saturday’s Stan James Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury but I suggest that’s more to do with connections rather than the 10-year-old’s form. Yes, he has won three times over fences and twice over 2m4f. But he’s also fallen three times in seven starts, including over the C&D on his only appearance this season. If he was trained by anyone else, he’d be twice the current best odds (5/1 with Paddy Power, Stan James and William Hill). If you have to have Nicholls on your side, have a small wager on stablemate Pacha Du Polder. He has proved equally wayward but did win a Grade 2 at Ayr last April and could be a spring horse. The 14/1 with Skybet and William Hill does at least afford an opportunity for an each-way bet.
David Pipe‘s Garynella has also been popular with punters (5/1 with several layers) but, again, one has to have reservations. Maybe he’s been showing up well at home because his record on the track doesn’t suggest he’s up to winning at this level. He managed just one success in six races over fences in the French Provinces and was beaten a long way on his UK debut at Cheltenham in December. There may well be more to come but you are gambling on potential rather than proof at those odds.
Venetia Williams‘ stable is in a rich vein of form and her mare Pepite Rose is an 8/1 chance here with bet365, Skybet and Stan James. She won a Listed race at the course last March but her two runs this season suggest she’s not really progressed, though she can be forgiven her latest run on heavy going at Ascot. Tony Star is 10/1 with bet365, BetVictor and William Hill but lacks experience and doesn’t appear particularly well handicapped and Micheal Flips (a general 12/1) has disappointed this season, but Midnight Sail (9/1 with Paddy Power and Skybet) is a consistent sort and arrives off the back of a victory at Kempton. Wincanton scorer Saved By John could also have each-way claims at bet365 and the sponsors’ 14/1 but it’s more difficult to make a case for Aintree-bound Ballabriggs, Mahogany Blaze and Bahrain Storm. Mr Gardner is another who may not be the force of old. That leaves BIG FELLA THANKS, who is the selection.
I’ll be jumping on the top weight at William Hill’s stand-out 9/1 after he came right back to his best when beating Consigliere by more than four lengths over a similar trip at Wincanton with the remainder, including Mr Gardner, strung out like last week’s washing. The runner-up won easily at Ayr next time so the form stands up and Big Fella Thanks won this race in 2010 when trained by Paul Nicholls. It looks like Tom George has the old boy firing on all cylinders again and he’s the value again despite a 9lb leap in the weights.