Bill Esdaile’s Gold Cup 1-2-3
- Royal Pagaille
WEDNESDAY’S deluge at Cheltenham has meant the ground for today’s Gold Cup (3.30pm) will be on the soft side and whichever way you look at it, the 3m2f trip is going to take some getting.
With that in mind, you’ve got to be looking for horses that really stay and while the softer conditions might not be ideal, I’ve been a fan of GALVIN for a long time and I’m not going to desert him now.
It’s fair to say he prefers the ground when it’s slightly better than it’s going to be today, but he does have bits and pieces of form on a softer surface, so I’m not too worried about that, and hopefully the ground will be a bit better come the off anyway.
Bar that slight concern, the case for Gordon Elliott’s contender is pretty strong.
We know he loves Cheltenham having won both a novice chase in 2020 and last year’s National Hunt Chase and that’s a victory which assures his supporters he stays really well.
If anything, he seems to have improved this year and was really good to deny A Plus Tard in the Savills Chase last time.
in here a fresh horse having not run at the Dublin Racing Festival and this race has always been the target, so he looks set to go very close at 10/3.
The Irish, as always, hold a very strong hand and Henry de Bromhead fires two darts, both of which have solid claims.
Of the pair of Minella Indo and A Plus Tard, I prefer the former, who although not as his best this season, was much more like his old self in the Irish Gold Cup and we all know how well he goes around Cheltenham.
A Plus Tard was brilliant in the Betfair Chase at Haydock at the start of the season, but he was beaten by Galvin over Christmas, and he hasn’t got it right the last twice at Cheltenham and at around the 4/1 mark, that’s a big enough reason to leave him out.
To me, at least, this feels like a year when there’s a strong chance of a newcomer throwing his hat firmly into the ring and the first of those is PROTEKTORAT.
Dan Skelton’s seven-year-old has always been campaigned as a two-and-a-half-miler and was really impressive when winning the Manifesto Novices’ Chase over the distance at the Grand National meeting last year.
He was first seen this term in the Paddy Power Gold Cup where he ran a mighty race off a huge weight to finish second.
He stormed home that day suggesting a try at three miles was worth a try and those theories proved correct as he absolutely bolted up in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree next time out.
That came in awful conditions, so he’ll have no problems with the soft ground here and I expect him to run a big race.
Skelton’s inmate will need to settle better than he did at Aintree, but the fact he didn’t and still won with his head in his chest on terrible ground suggests this is a horse with a huge engine and his profile reminds me quite a lot of Long Run.
We all know how well he did on his first try at the Gold Cup trip and Protektorat might just follow suit.
A case can certainly be made for the King George winner Tornado Flyer, who I’m not quite sure has got the credit for that win at Kempton.
Yes, people can say the race fell apart, but he won really well there, and he has plenty of form on soft ground.
He has to be considered at around the 12/1 mark, but the final one I’m going to throw into the mix is ROYALE PAGAILLE at 10/1.
If there was one horse in here who would have been dancing in his stable when Wednesday’s rain hit Prestbury Park, it would have been him as he’s shown he really thrives when the mud is flying.
Venetia Williams’ contender has won the last two Peter Marsh’s on bad ground and ran really well in both the Betfair Chase and Denman Chase on ground that would have been quicker than ideal.
Of course, he’ll need to improve to win this, but the money has already come for him and it’s not hard to see why.