There’s been plenty of rain at Cheltenham and the going is now soft. That should help Le Prezien and arguably hinder my selection Foxtail Hill. Here are AP’s thoughts.
20-time champion Jump jockey Sir Anthony McCoy is hopeful of a big run from the Paul Nicholls-trained Le Prezien in today’s centrepiece on day two of the November Meeting, the £160,000 BetVictor Gold Cup (1.50pm).
Owned by McCoy’s former retaining owner J P McManus, for whom he now plays an advisory role, the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup winning rider believes the six-year-old son of Blue Bresil can improve on his neck second to Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Foxtail Hill, who reopposes today, at The Showcase Meeting last month.
Le Prezien’s will to win was questioned that day as he failed to reel in Foxtail Hill, but McCoy remains confident in the French-bred gelding’s ability, commenting this morning on ITV’s The Opening Show: “Sam Twiston-Davies gave Foxtail Hill a brilliant ride here at Cheltenham last time out.
“Barry Geraghty delivered Le Prezien at the last to win his race that day like you would want him to, but Foxtail Hill had a little bit left. Barry got him into the perfect position to win at the last and it was a good effort. Whether Le Prezien is good enough to beat Foxtail Hill here today, I’m not so sure. He is a very good traveller and the race will suit him.”
Le Prezien is a 6/1 shot for the extended two and a half-mile event with the sponsors BetVictor and McCoy continued: “I would love him to win for J P, and whilst he does have to carry plenty of weight, he does remain unexposed.”
This year’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup second Minella Rocco tackles the BetVictor.com Handicap Chase (1.50pm). Jonjo O’Neill’s charge, who also runs in the colours of McManus, was two and three-quarter lengths behind Sizing John at the Festival and carries top-weight of 11st 12lb in the extended three miles and three furlong contest. He was fourth in the G3 Irish Daily Star Chase at Punchestown on his reappearance last month and connections are hopeful of a good performance.
Jackdaws Castle handler O’Neill said: “It was a funny race at Punchestown the last day but the form has been franked as Outlander, who was behind him there, has come out and won since [G1 JNwine.com Champion Chase, Down Royal], so it is difficult to weigh the form up at the moment. We are very happy with Minella Rocco, he’s in great form at home and I’m hoping we’ll see a bit more from him in the BetVictor Gold Cup and we can then plan from there.”
McCoy explained: “It was funny the way the race panned out at Punchestown and the way the weights were framed, he probably should’ve run a bit better. Minella Rocco is a huge, big horse and hopefully he should improve for the run. Would any of the other horses in this race have finished second in a Gold Cup? I doubt that. He has to give them all a little bit of weight, but if he improves on that run at Punchestown, which you hope he would, then he has every chance.
“He is a gorgeous looking horse with talent, but he needs to prove he is better than he was at Punchestown. Because he is such a big horse, it sometimes takes a little time to get their mind and physicality ready. You want them fit but the Gold Cup should be his target. If he is good enough to win that, who knows, so he might end up going down the Grand National route, but it was a very good run to finish second in this year’s Gold Cup.”