Cheltenham Festival 2015: Gold Cup Preview (15:20)
This year’s renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup (15:20) is a wide open affair, and Carlingford Lough is taken to provide jockey Tony McCoy with a winner in his last ever ride in the contest.
The John Kiely trained nine-year-old provided McCoy with his first victory in the Irish Hennessy last month, the the day after he announced that he will retire at the end of this season, and has a progressive profile.
McCoy has chosen Carlingford Lough over Holywell, although it’s no great surprise considering the former is owned by his great friend JP McManus for whom he has been a retained rider since 2004.
Carlingford Lough has a similar profile to Synchronised, who McCoy partnered to victory for McManus in the 2012 Gold Cup, in that he is a dour stayer who needs nudging and cajoling into his races, and heads for into the contest of the back of a career-best performance.
Synchronised showed improved form to win the Lexus before triumphing at Cheltenham, and Carlingford Lough’s win in the Hennessy was a huge step forward on what he had previously shown.
Nine year olds also have a good recent record in the 3m 2f contest, having won three of the last six runnings, and Carlingford Lough looks to have major claims of providing McCoy with his third winner in chasing’s blue riband event.
Dual King George VI chase winner Silviniaco Conti bids to provide champion trainer Paul Nicholls with his fifth winner of the race, but he has failed in two previous attempts in the 3m 2f contest, and could prove vulnerable once again on ground which may be quicker than ideal.
Last year’s winner Lord Windermere has been campaigned all season with this race solely in mind, and shaped well when third to Carlingford Lough in the Hennessy.
Trainer Jim Culloty is adamant that the nine-year-old will not been seen at his best until he gets good ground and, with conditions having come in his favour, Lord Windermere looks sure to go well.
Fellow Irish raider and Lexus winner Road To Riches also commands the utmost respect, given his upwardly mobile profile, but for those looking for a live outsider to back each-way I would look no further than The Giant Bolster.
Trained by David Bridgwater, this 10-year-old has a terrific record in the race and comes alive in the spring.
Owned by Simon Hunt, The Giant Bolster finished runner-up to Synchronised in 2012, fourth to Bobs Worth in 2013, and an excellent 3/4 length third to Lord Windermere in last year’s renewal.
The gelding is reported to be in as good as shape as ever by Bridgwater, if that’s the case then the odds on offer are an insult given The Giant Bolster’s previous exploits in this showpiece Cheltenham race.