IT has been a tough week for the bookies as we perished at the hands of Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls on days one and two.
Today heralds the main event, the blue riband, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. After his impressive King George win at Kempton on Boxing Day, Silviniaco Conti comes with solid form in the book and heads the market with us at 4/1. Even after not quite getting up the hill last year, punters have kept the faith with the Nicholls charge.
The Thyestes Chase winner Djakadam, for Mullins, Walsh and Ricci, has seen some support too and is now into 7/1 from 9/1.
After a disappointing run in the Hennessy the Mullins camp have maintained that this horse has a lively Gold Cup chance and, after the week Willie has had, punters are sitting up and taking note.
Many Clouds is a 9/1 shot at present for Oliver Sherwood and Leighton Aspell. The Hennessy winner may need a bit more cut in the ground to have the ideal conditions and no doubt connections will be doing a rain dance.
Carlingford Lough, a good winner at Leopardstown last time, the novice Coneygree and last year’s winner Lord Windemere, a Cheltenham specialist, are all on the 10/1 mark while Noel Meade’s Galway Plate winner Road to Riches is not far behind at 11/1.
No doubt the market will change shape a bit throughout the course of the day, but this is as open a Gold Cup as I’ve seen for a while and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a tight finish.