PHILIP Hobbs has had a fantastic end to the jumps season and he can cap things off in perfect style by taking tomorrow’s Bet365 Gold Cup with LACDOUDAL. The 11-year-old grey won this race four years ago off a mark of 152 and finished third last year, beaten just 1 ¾ lengths off 140. He has dropped another 4lb since then and ran an absolute stormer in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham.
The reason he is 14/1 with William Hill is because he hasn’t won for four years, but he absolutely loves Sandown and the handicapper has given him a massive chance on ground he will relish. He has been trained with this race in mind and 14/1 is an excellent each-way price. Hobbs has come out this week to say that Fairoak Lad is the stable’s No1 chance and Richard Johnson takes the ride. However, I wouldn’t read too much into that; he is a novice who has yet to run over these unique fences and may just lack the experience.
There wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house if Hobbs’ other Sandown specialist Monkerhostin could take this for the second time in three years, but he is 13 now and no horse older than 11 has won this race in its 52 year history. Of the others, Paul Nicholls’ Just Amazing is potentially well-handicapped, but is too short for a horse that has done all his winning in small fields. Lothian Falcon could have a big chance on old form if he has got over his early exit in the Scottish National, while Den Of Iniquity is also interesting for last year’s winning owner Malcolm Denmark.
There is some terrific flat action on tomorrow’s Sandown card and Paco Boy should take some stopping in the Bet365 Mile. However, he will be plenty short enough on fast ground over a trip which stretches his stamina to the limit. I’d prefer to wait for the Bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes and back Michael Jarvis’ progressive LAAHEB against the likes of Crowded House, Glass Harmonium and Tranquil Tiger. The four-year-old has won four of his six lifetime starts and his shrewd handler has a string of ambitious entries for the son of Cape Cross. Unlike the vast majority of the other six runners, he doesn’t need plenty of cover and I expect Richard Hills to sit very close to the pace, if not make it.
Clive Cox’s Dunn’o originally caught my eye in the finale, as he has been victorious in all three of his recent visits to Esher. However, the yard doesn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders yet and I prefer the chances of the Kieren Fallon ridden MABAIT. Luca Cumani’s colt is progressing at a rate of knots and can land the four-timer on his way to better things.
Looking ahead to next weekend’s Guineas meeting and I’m getting pretty sweet on the chances of French raider SPECIAL DUTY at 4/1 with Ladbrokes for the 1000 Guineas. I think you can ignore her reappearance run on bottomless ground when she had to make most of the running. The ground will be perfect for her next Sunday and I think she’ll be too good for the likes of Seta and Music Show.
LACDOUDAL e/w Sandown 3.05pm (tomorrow)
LAAHEB Sandown 4.15pm (tomorrow)
MABAIT Sandown 4.50pm (tomorrow)
SPECIAL DUTY 4/1 1000 Guineas