Where is the Gold Cup value now?

Long Run might be the superstar many think he is, but I believe he still has quite a bit to prove to merit his 9/4 ante-post Gold Cup price for 2012. The 6-year-old beat Riverside Theatre in the King George with an arguably past-it Kauto Star not running to form, Albertas Run pulling up suspected lame (sound on inspection) with the rest a relatively poor bunch.

Impressive as he was in the Gold Cup, filling the places were Kauto and Denman, almost twice Long Run’s age. Remember that the 2nd fav, Imperial Commander pulled up and was found to be lame as well as bleeding from a broken vessel.

So there has to be value somewhere in the Gold Cup market, but where is it?  RSA winner Boston’s Angel, though game and consistent, doesn’t seem up to Gold Cup class (trainer reportedly thought him a Midlands National horse prior to Cheltenham).

Arkle winner Captain Chris’s owner commented after Cheltenham that the horse probably wanted two and a half miles but a crack at the King George would be on the agenda.  A fine jumper but his stamina would need to be taken very much on trust.

Wishfull Thinking is in the same ownership as Captain Chris. Despite defeat in the Jewson at the festival, he went on to win at Aintree and Punchestown, showing he’d found his niche with front-running.  His trainer says he has bags of pace and he is another likely King George contender.

Plenty pace and good jumping are admirable qualities but a stayer’s what you want for the Gold Cup. The first two in todays’ Bet365 Charlie Hall, have plenty stamina and with 16s and 20s available, you can try and narrow it to the best value, or have a bet on each of them.

William Hill pushed Time For Rupert out to 16s after today’s defeat. He was very fresh in the race, I thought, and ran with the choke out for much of the way. He’s also a big, gross horse who who should improve markedly for the outing.

It’s the first time he has led pretty much throughout. I suspect it was more by accident than design and jockey Will Kennedy decided to let him stride on rather than fight him, but it led to him taking too much out of himself and he’ll do much better held up off the pace in future.

He jumped cleanly throughout apart from a tired effort at the last, though he lugged noticeably left at a few fences and gave Weird Al a bit of a bump two out. Weird Al was giving him 3lbs so on paper it’s hard to argue that TFR can beat him in the Gold Cup, especially as Weird Al is relatively inexperienced and entitled to improve too.

On his record, the ground seems key to Weird Al – Wetherby rode much slower than the official ‘good’ ground, and most of his racing’s been on soft. He’s also one of those frustrating horses with lots of talent but little luck.  A fracture kept him out of the 2010 RSA. In this year’s Gold Cup he broke a blood vessel. After an early hurdles victory, he needed oxygen.

The one disappointing run he seemed to have no excuse for was last year’s Hennessy, 8th of 18 beaten 42L.  That was far and away the biggest field he’d faced over fences and I wonder if that might be a weakness?  Having said that, if Long Run does not blot his copybook, he might scare a few Gold Cup prospects away, leaving a comparatively small field.

After today, Weird Al’s rider Timmy Murphy said he’d barely been off the bridle and idled towards the end.  I’ll back Weird Al and Time For Rupert at 20s and 16s respectively. If you want just one bet, Weird Al is probably the better value.

Good luck.

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