HORSE RACING boff Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) shares his views on Friday’s highlight from the Festival, the Gold Cup.
Gold Cup | 15.30 Friday | Channel 4
This is a very good renewal, sadly missing Vatour and reigning champion Coneygree but it’s a great race in prospect.
I’ve changed my mind on about 10 occasions this week on who will win but I’ve finally nailed my colours to the mast.
I’m going to take a look at the first five in the market and share with you my final 1-2-3.
Djakadam (3/1 Ladbrokes)
At the time of writing, Djakadam is slight favourite and you can understand why. Second in this last year as a six year-old, he was an impressive winner on his seasonal debut before falling here in January.
His recent work has apparently been very good, and if it wasn’t for his fall last time out he would be a confident selection.
The mount of Ruby Walsh, he looks primed to run a huge race here and I expect him to be heavily involved in the finish.
Don Cossack (3/1 Ladbrokes)
The highest-rated chaser in training and a long time favourite for this, Gordon Elliott has had this race in mind for years.
He was slightly unlucky in the Ryanair Chase last season but put up spectacular performances at Aintree and Punchestown to stake his claim as the top staying chaser around.
Don Cossack fell in the King George when in contention but on his last start he ground out a victory over inferior rivals.
He will love the ground and looks more and more like a stayer with every outing. He has a huge chance here.
Cue Card (4/1 Ladbrokes)
I never expected to see the day that Cue Card would be legitimate Gold Cup horse but it has happened.
He has so much pace but victories in the Betfair Chase and the King George where he ground down Vatour, sees him in line for a million pound bonus if he wins here.
He had a breathing operation in the summer which has transformed him and he has a good record at the track.
My one concern is he’s yet to win past three miles but he more than deserves his place in the field.
Don Poli (4/1 Ladbrokes)
The lowest rated of the so-called big four, Don Poli has more to prove than his rivals.
A good winner of the RSA Chase last season, he has won both starts this season, on both occasions looking like a dour stayer.
If the ground had come up heavy, I would back him.
But I feel at least one of his three main rivals will have too much pace for him. However, if it turns in to a slog, he could end up in the winners enclosure.
Smad Place (8/1 Ladbrokes)
Smad Place constantly fell short in big chases before running away with the Hennesy this season.
He flopped in the King George but showed himself a worthy Gold Cup horse when beating Many Clouds in the race that saw Djakadam fall.
To me, he’s likely to set the race up for others, but if he gets in to a good rhythm early on, he could take some pegging back.
What an intriguing race in prospect.
Tactics will play a huge part and if given an easy lead, Smad Place could nick it from the front. However I think he will be pressured and I expect the big guns to fight this out late on.
Don Poli stays stronger than most but may lack tactical speed and I still wonder if three miles and two-and-a-bit furlongs around Cheltenham will suit Cue Card.
I feel this will be between Don Poli and Djakadam and I think last year’s runner-up will fill that roll again.
- Don Cossack
- Don Poli
Gold Cup – Don Coassck to win (3/1 Ladbrokes)
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