Well, it has finally come: Gold Cup day. The biggest day of the season. Well, I always felt it was. This year’s race, with a small field, looks to be quite open, writes Ruby Walsh
I didn’t really fancy Santini at all this year. I thought his style of racing would make him a difficult ride in the Gold Cup but the fact there are only 12 runners will make him a much easier ride for Nico De Boinville.
He looks quite sluggish in his races, but the small field should mean there isn’t too much traffic for him. He probably has a good shout, especially as Nicky Henderson’s horses are flying.
Delta Work would appear, on form, to hold Kemboy and Presenting Percy, having beaten them both twice at Leopardstown.
He was just behind Santini in last year’s RSA Chase but has improved steadily throughout the season and I can see why Gordon Elliott is so keen on him.
Paul Nicholls is very sweet on Clan Des Obeaux. I can’t see it, but Paul knows what it takes to win a Gold Cup and he’s extremely sweet on him.
He proved he stays, proved he handles the track, and has had the very same preparation – he went to Tramore and won on New Year’s Day - and he’s the very same horse he was here last year. And I think that will be good enough to win.
The first race is the Triumph Hurdle. People have all sorts of thoughts and theories about this renewal. Allmankind, Goshen and Solo are the three big British hopes, and Aspire Tower looks the best of the Irish on form, I suppose.
But when all that is said and done, I’m in the A Wave Of The Sea camp. I think he stayed really well to win in Leopardstown, and on this ground and on this track stamina is really going to come into it, and the way the other horses like to be ridden I think it will suit a finisher like A Wave Of The Sea.
Willie has plenty of runners in the County Hurdle in a typically wide-open renewal, and Ciel De Niege will be top of a lot of people’s lists for Mark Walsh, carrying the JP McManus colours. But I like Saint Roi, the one Barry Geraghty rides.
I think Aramon needs the ground to dry up an awful lot to be at his best. Buildmeupbuttercup has to jump better and prove she stays.
Tiger Tap Tap was very disappointing on his last start, so it’s probably hard to fancy him.
The third race is the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and Latest Exhibition, for Paul Nolan and Bryan Cooper, will be many people’s fancy. I tipped Thyme Hill a long time ago and that bumper form with Envoi Allen and Abacadabras from last year now looks absolutely rock-solid, and he’s a big player.
Willie has Monkfish, which Paul Townend rides. He has done little wrong. I thought he was very good in Thurles on his last start. Willie also runs Janidil, who is stepping up to three miles for the first time, but he never really struck me as a stayer.
His other horse, Aione, does stay but lacks a bit of experience, while Fury Road has probably been forgotten by a lot of people but cannot be ruled out with Gordon’s horses in such terrific form.
But I think, with all the rain we had on Wednesday night, the ground is going to be very testing and that brings Ramses De Teillee into play for David Pipe.
In the Foxhunters, Willie runs a horse called Billaway. I think we might have had one runner in the Foxhunters, many years ago, but this fellow is in great form.
He won in Naas, beating Staker Wallace, and should uphold that form. I think he has an absolutely massive chance.
I don’t have a strong opinion on the Grand Annual but, we run a couple in the Martin Pipe, Five O’Clock being our best. I know he has a lot of weight, but I thought he was good in Thurles. My Sister Sarah wants better ground, while Great White Shark has been too in-and-out and it’s hard to really stick your neck out for her.
I thought she was really well handicapped, but she hasn’t delivered on that.
Front View was behind Five O’Clock in Thurles, but he’s probably the one they all have to beat.
3.30: Al Boum Photo (Nap)
2.10: Saint Roi