As is often the case, last month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup appears to hold the key to this weekend’s Stewart Family Gold Cup (formerly the December Gold Cup) run over the same course and distance.
Three of the first four re-oppose at Cheltenham but seventh Champion Court (a general 14/1) must be a doubtful starter having finished second in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on Thursday. John’s Spirit won the Paddy Power, beating Colour Squadron by three-quarters-of-a-length. But the second was possibly unlucky as he was badly hampered at the second-last. Philip Hobbs‘ charge is a couple of pounds better off with a winner now and you would imagine that might be enough to turn the tables, especially as John’s Spirit was definitely coming to the end of his tether in the Paddy Power and is probably high enough in the weights as a result of recent exploits. Bookmakers can’t split the pair with both a general 5/1, but the fact that Colour Squadron has still to win a race over fences and invariably finds trouble somewhere en route means backers should again exercise caution. At the current odds, I’d much rather have a each-way bet on ATTAGLANCE.
Like Colour Sqaudron, Malcolm Jefferson‘s seven-year-old has yet to win a chase but there have been definite signs that this formerly useful hurdler is finally ready to make his mark over the larger obstacles. Attaglance was fourth in the Paddy Power, beaten six lengths. but he was racing from 6lb out of the handicap that day – he can race off his correct mark this weekend. You could argue that Double Ross (a general 12/1) has his measure on earlier Perth running but Attaglance has now run well twice at Cheltenham (he won at The Festival in 2012) and 9/1 is still available on betfair.
Cantlow (10/1 with BetVictor, Titanbet and 888sport) beat Easter Meteor (a general 12/1) and Grandioso (7/1 with Coral) at Newbury but has been raised 8lb since and AP McCoy has deserted him in favour of Colour Squadron. I’d be a bit worried about Grandioso at Cheltenham as well as he’s saved his best for flatter tracks in the past while Ma Filleule (20/1 in most places) is having her first start over fences in this country and prefers softer ground. Salut Flo (a general 10/1) hasn’t been seen since landing the Byrne Group Plate at the 2012 Festival and this looks a big ask after such a long break and Silver Roque only won at Sedgefield last time. He’s a 20/1 chance with Betfred, Boylesports and totesport but is giving 6lb to Attaglance, who is the selection.