James Knight’s Weekly Wrap for the Coral Champions Club
The Bet365 Gold Cup
Matt Trounce previews tomorrow’s big race…
The Bet365 Gold Cup has a famous history with names such as Arkle and Desert Orchid on the roll call, and although there’s nothing of that quality lining up this year, it’s still a fiercely competitive renewal.
The final day of the jump season is associated with no man more than Tony McCoy, who tomorrow will collect his 19th jockey’s title. In that time he’s managed to win the race twice and Burton Port gives him every chance of making it three. Laid out for the Grand National, he became just about the only plan that hasn’t come together for the Jonjo O’Neill yard this season, when coming down at the second. As a consequence he comes here fresh and off a mark some 25lbs below his peak it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go close. However, there is one I think who could go one better.
Dr Richard Newland is training like a man possessed at the moment – not content with a Grand National winner to his name, the rest of his string are operating at well over a 30% strike rate for the month. His chosen representative is Arkdilly Witness, who has the perfect profile for the race. He started the season plying his trade in novice races before moving up to open handicaps with two progressive efforts. He was left poorly positioned in the BetBright Chase before powering home with a step up in trip looking like it should suit. Not only should it suit on his run style but also on pedigree with his sire, Witness Box, best known for marathon staying chasers.
Another Witness Box is Godsmejudge, who looked back to his best at Ayr last time. He’d had a disappointing season up to that, but in line with many of his stable he looks to have bounced back to rude health now. The trip holds no fears and if his Coral Scottish Grand National run has left no marks then another bold show looks on the cards.
Of the rest, the Venetia William’s triumvirate of Houblon Des Obeaux, Rigadin De Beauchene and Emperor’s Choice should love the rain, whereas horses such as Spring Heeled and Twirling Magnet will not. It would be fitting for Paul Nicholls to win the final big handicap of the season given that it’s been these kind of races, rather than Grade 1s, that have helped him wrestle back the trainer’s championship from Nicky Henderson. He relies on Bury Parade and Poungach to give him a fourth success – and it could just be the enigmatic Poungach to pose the greatest threat.
1. Ardkilly Witness 2. Burton Port 3.Godsmejudge
Tan joins Horses First ranks.
Q: What do the Coral Champions Club and Vincent Tan have in common?
A: They both have horses in training with Jeremy Gask and Horses First Racing.
Yes, this was the week when the colourful and sometimes controversial owner of Cardiff City, Vincent Tan, ventured into the wonderful world of racehorse ownership. Tan, who has of course become famous for his insistence on Cardiff City wearing red colours, bought a Dutch Art colt at the Doncaster Breeze-Ups for the princely sum of £190k.
Now some may have questioned Tan’s choice of managers over the past few months, but we certainly can’t question his taste when it comes to racehorse trainers. We look forward to seeing his (presumably red) silks gracing our racecourses some time soon…
Breeze Up horses to follow
If you want to follow Vincent Tan’s colt then you will want to make a note of his pedigree. It was Lot 177 at the Doncaster Breeze Ups and his pedigree is:
177: Dutch Art x Mary Goodnight.
Having studied every breeze at Doncaster I can also recommend that you keep a close eye on the following two year olds
165: Exceed and Excel x La Pilaya
137: Lope De Vega x Elshamms
These two were the top lots at the sale and deservedly so. While Sheikh Fahad’s Qatar racing clearly have a very big pool of cash, they don’t leave any stone unturned in the search for equine talent and anyone who clocked the breezes would have had these two as their top picks.
Another three slight less obvious juveniles to follow are…
40: Siyouni x Samerous
100: Kodiac x Appley Bridge
168: Kodiac x Lily In The Pond
Both 40 and 168 were bought by the ultra-shrewd Peter and Ross Doyle partnership and were horses which really impressed in the breeze. If time is your thing then lot 100 is the one to watch out for – by my reckoning this filly was the fastest horse of them all – and when she makes her debut it is quite possible that this will not be factored into to the betting market.
WEEKEND NAP – you won’t get rich backing him, but SIGNOR PICCOLO (4.40) looks a really solid favourite tomorrow. This horse absolutely bolted up in a Nottingham sprint last time and the race could barely have worked out better, with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th (all well held on the day), all winning on their subsequent starts. Eric Alston has always been excellent with sprinters and Signore Piccolo should win this before going up in grade. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him land one of the valuable 3yo sprint handicaps later on in the summer.
WEEKEND NEXT BEST: For something at slightly more rewarding odds, SIR REGINALD looks to have a rock solid chance in the 2.20 Haydock. Richard Fahey’s stalwart made a fine reappearance last month at Doncaster where he found the 6 furlong trip an inadequate test. He made really eye-catching late progress though and the return to seven furlongs, coupled with the booking of Ryan Moore, make him an appealing proposition tomorrow.
WEEKEND BISMARCK One of the most interesting handicaps of the day takes place at Leicester in the 3.05 and John Gosden’s highly touted maiden winner, EAGLE TOP, is sure to be a popular favourite. He’s one I wouldn’t mind standing though – not necessarily because he isn’t a horse with considerable potential, but simply because he meets a few other unexposed animals here. In particular, Mark Johnston’s Tizlove Regardless stands out a major threat. Believe it or not, this horse has been supported for the Derby at massive prices and while that assignment is likely to prove beyond him, it would be no surprise whatsoever if he turned out to be significantly better than his current rating of 77. He receives 15lbs from Eagle Top tomorrow and I think he can give John Gosden’s horse something to think about.