I see the Gold Cup is being written off in some quarters as a very poor one because of the result. I’m not having that. You don’t go into a championship race with two horses around 180 – trained to the minute – and come out of it with a field full of 160ish horses – it just doesn’t happen imo.
The rails were moved yesterday morning “between 7 and 11 yards on the inside of the ‘chase course” (Simon Claisse), offering a strip of ground that had not been raced on for a year. Given that the year also saw an unprecedented amount of water falling on it, and that most of the field raced on that strip for most of the race – except the finish where the first three came up on older ground – could that have something to do with the result?
The going announced was for the whole track – I wonder if Mr Claisse used his stick on that fresh strip? I’d be very interested to see a stick reading from it.
An unusual pace can, of course, throw up a strange result. But Geraghty reported that he thought they were going a stride to fast for BW throughout; the winner could not go the pace at all until turning in for the last time. And yet the time was nothing special. The Gold Cup was run less than seven seconds faster than The Foxhunters, run 40 minutes or so after the big race.
Yesterday was Lord Windermere’s first win on ground without soft in the official description (Timeform gave it as Good, Good to Soft in places). Bobs Worth’s connections have always insisted he is a better horse on decent ground – there’s insufficient evidence in the formbook to form a solid objective assessment of that claim.
Anyway, it’s nothing more than a theory on what was a very strange day at Cheltenham, all in all. Bobs Worth’s poor run at Haydock and the general form of the Henderson yard could also be seen as casting some doubt on his running. But I’m not having it that Silv Conti didn’t get the trip after bottomless stamina won him the King George. That race, of course, might have left a mark on him, so the front two could conceivably have run well below form. Whatever happened, seven minutes didn’t turn two horses with a ratings advantage of between 16/19lbs and 25/28lbs into a pair of donkeys.