GRAEME Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) continues his preview of this year’s Cheltenham Festival with an outside Gold Cup pick.
Cheltenham Festival Fancies | 14-17 March 2017
The Gold Cup is the highlight of the meeting and as ever this is a fantastic renewal. Much revolves around Thistlecrack, who was surprisingly beaten by the late Many Clouds last time out and despite that reversal he remains the one to beat.
Because of Thistlecracks reputation and the strength of the Tizzard yard in this race there is uncertainty over where some of the entries will end up and I’m taking a chance on one who isn’t assured to line up, however with non runner no bet on offer now we can bet with peace of mind.
Don Poli was sent off 9/2 to win this race last season and was given a strange ride from Davy Russell. Held up well off the pace here was never competitive at any point and ran in to a place late on but was well beaten that day.
His main strength is his stamina and he really appreciates soft ground. After his disappointing reappearance and debut for Gordon Elliott (needed the outing) he was largely written off as a top class chaser. However last time out in the Lexus he showed he is no back number yet.
He was ridden more prominently that day and I feel that an aggressive ride is the right approach to getting the best form Don Poli. He’s a multiple Grade 1 winner and if the rain arrives and makes the ground testing he could very well make it two wins a row for Gigginstown and Gordon Elliott.
Even if it’s not heavy he is likely to be put in the race this time and he appeals as an each way bet to me for the big race. He was touted as a Grand National hope however I think he will be aimed here and if he runs well in the Irish Gold Cup then he could be single figure odds for this. I’ve backed him each way in the non runner no bet markets as we either have a live contender on our hands or a refund coming our way.
Graeme Johnstone’s Festival Fancies
Gold Cup – Don Poli each way (20/1 Bet365)