The Greatwood Gold Cup. Or should we call it the Paul Nicholls invitational?
Six of the last eight renewals have gone the way of the Ditcheat maestro, so it is clear where our focus must lie when trying to pick apart the 2016 field. That Nicholls has only two runners for the Newbury chase this year may be something of a surprise – but we should not be shocked to see both of them at the head of affairs in the betting. One thing is for sure, whoever comes out of the Grade 3 contest on top, you can be sure Nicholls won’t be far away. Let’s examine the key players…
ART MAURESQUE (Rating 144)
Has the typical profile of a Nicholls French import and we’ve seen him do so well with this type over the years. He was thought good enough to run in the Grade One Maghull Novices Chase at Aintree last year – and that was only his second start in Britain. He wasn’t without his backers in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and ultimately finished a creditable sixth, but you get the feeling there is plenty more to come now. He certainly merits his place at the head of the market and the others have plenty to fear.
SAMETEGAL (Rating 143)
If he wins this, it will be some training performance by Nicholls. Just go back and watch Sametegal’s last run at Musselburgh and you’d never stick another pound on him. He somehow contrived to tie up like an OAP of the dancefloor at a wedding and was nobbled on the line by the 121-rated Five In A Row. Backers who’d plunged on him that day at 1/2 won’t need reminding of that horror show, but it will take a different horse to turn up here and win this. Even with Harry Cobden claiming a handy 7lbs.
ULTRAGOLD (Rating 131)
Anything running out of the Colin Tizzard stable at present deserves our utmost respect and it would be folly to dismiss Ultragold off the back of a 17 length romp at Wincanton a fortnight ago. But he’s been hiked 11lbs for that win in a Class 2 contest and he comes here on his highest ever mark, so it will take a career best performance to win this. That’s not to say it’s beyond him and if anyone can get him there at present it’s Tizzard. He’d rate a lively contender.
LITTLE JON (Rating 143)
I like this chap a lot. A powerful jumper with a lot of scope and one who has competed on the big stages. Again, though, he’s one who has been done no favours by the handicapper and he’ll be turning in a career best to go and win it. That said, he’s entitled to find this company a lot fairer than his last two outings at Cheltenham where he had the dubious task of trying to chase home Village Vic and he wouldn’t be ruled out entirely.
BENNYS MIST (Rating 145)
Won the Sefton at Aintree in December in such taking style – but what an inconsistent horse. On his day and when in a rhythm, he is a joy to watch over his fences. But he’s the kind of horse where you know your fate after the first obstacle. If it’s his going day, he’ll let you know by then. The handicapper has probably got a fair grip of him off 145, but if he decides to turn up and jump he could probably go in off 165. He’s that type of performer.
SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR (Rating 152)
The class angle of the race and his 12 length fifth in last year’s Grand National reads so well in this context. Interestingly, though, it’s three years since he won over the Greatwood trip and I suspect things will be happening plenty quick enough for him here. In Barry Geraghty he’s got a fantastic pilot who knows him well but I wouldn’t be rushing to back the top weight on this occasion.
How we bet: As the market suggests at 11/2 the field, this one is wide open. And you could arguably make a case for 95% of the field. ART MAURESQUE is probably a worthy favourite (just) and is the one potential improver who could go on to big things. ULTRAGOLD comes into the race as the form horse, but even then we’d have been hoping for slightly bigger than 8/1. If I was to advise an each way play, he would be carrying my cash.
Stake: 0.5pts each way @ 8/1 (various)
Thanks for reading – this was brought to you by The Tower – Tipsters Empire form tipster who pulled out a 28/1 winner last week