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Paddy Power Gold Cup betting

November 15th, 2013

The Paddy Power Gold Cup is firmly established as one of the highlights of the jumping season and, unsurprisingly, the big stables have dominated the contest in recent years.

Last season, Paul Nicholls finally ended his drought in the race courtesy of Al Ferof and we think there is a real chance that lightening could strike twice for Nicholls courtesy of one of this year’s outsiders, Woolcombe Folly (ew).

Despite his big price, it isn’t hard to make a case for this ten-year-old who has been kept busy over the summer. The main reasons for supporting him are his handicap mark, the ground and his effort over course and distance last time out.

The horse’s current mark is nineteen pounds lower than the mark he was on when we went to post for the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2011. He hasn’t won since his run before that race, which was again here at Prestbury Park. As a result, his mark has tumbled and last time out he would surely have given one of the favourites here, John’s Spirit, a real race had he not blundered badly at the last. Despite that, he was only beaten 6l and is 7lbs better off here.

Crucially, he will also enjoy underfoot conditions, which are much livelier than seemed likely a few weeks ago. All in all, he looks to have a much better chance than his odds of 33/1 suggest.

There are, of course, a host of dangers not least the aforementioned John’s Spirit who clearly had a bit in hand when winning last time out. He travels really well in his races, which is ideal for a contest of this nature. The only doubt is his jumping, which can be a bit iffy at times and, despite his obvious chance, better value may lie elsewhere.

The top class Finian’s Rainbow is interesting back in handicap company as he also loves good ground and should be suited by this longer trip, but Nicky Henderson’s stable has yet to hit top form. That is also a concern, therefore, for Rajdhani Express (who is 15lbs higher than when winning at last season’s Festival) and Nadiya De La Vega, who was third in this race last year (she is 5lbs better off this time).

Nadiya De La Vega is one of three runners for JP McManus and of the trio Tony McCoy has chosen to ride Tap Night for the in-form Lucinda Russell yard. 

Tap Night is clearly hugely talented, but he is yet to prove himself in the hustle and bustle of these big field handicaps. He also has to prove his stamina over this trip, although the ground will help him in that regard. He has a lot to do on the book with Rajdhani Express, based on their one two at Ayr at the back end of last season.

Colour Squadron (ew) is more interesting as he looks incredibly well handicapped, but he is yet to get his jumping together over the bigger obstacles. He should be there or thereabouts granted a clear round and he is a massive 20lbs better off with Rajdhani Express for a 14l beating at the Festival. His price of 14/1 is tempting enough to encourage us to take a chance on his fencing.

As well as Colour Squadron, Philip Hobbs has Wishful Thinking in the race and he would be a threat to all if back to his best on a course that suited him in the past. He showed enough behind Conquisto in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree last time out to suggest he can’t be ruled out completely.

Champion Court also likes it around here and it isn’t surprising that his monumental effort in last season’s King George left its mark. He probably still wasn’t right come the Ryanair at the Festival, but he did finish the season on a high with a win here in April. However, his price has collapsed in recent days and he can’t be recommended at his current odds (no bigger than 7/1).

Ballynagour and Battle Group also ran at the Festival. The former was having only his second start for David Pipe having sluiced home on his UK debut at Warwick. There is no telling how good he might be, but he has bled frequently in the past. On the plus side, Pipe has chosen him to represent the yard ahead of Salut Flo and Dynaste.

Battle Group was a revelation last season after switching from Pipe’s yard to Kevin Bishop. He has moved stables again and is now 19lbs higher in the weights.

The other one to consider is Irish raider Hidden Cyclone. He has won 10 of his 16 starts under rules and has bounced back to form after a disappointing start to last season. He finished just ahead of Woolcombe Folly at Galway in July and taking into account the claim of the latter’s jockey the two will race off similar weights here. He has yet to run here though, which is a concern.

Finally, it's worth noting that race sponsors Paddy Power, plus Bet365 and Sky Bet are offering 5 places for each-way bets on this race - while other bookmakers offer just 4.

Woolcombe Folly (ew) 2.30 Cheltenham
Colour Squadron (ew) 2.30 Cheltenham
Sky Bet

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