PAT KEANE: Cooldine can stake Gold Cup claim

THE public relations merchants for the ante-post firms have been on overdrive this week, letting us know about the sustained gamble on Cooldine for Sunday’s Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

All the 4-1 has long dried up and, I’m sure, there has been plenty of money about for Willie Mullins’ gelding. I think we can be virtually sure now he will start favourite.

You would have to say that’s mildly surprising, considering a rather dismal display in the Lexus at Leopardstown at Christmas.

He guessed somewhat at the very first fence and the writing was on the wall through the final mile, before he pulled up going to the last when well out of contention.

In contrast, both Money Trix and Joncol ran crackers to fill second and third places respectively behind What A Friend.

But there remains the strong possibility that the Cooldine we saw at Christmas and the one who turns up on Sunday may bear little resemblance.

Certainly, there have been positive vibes over the last few days from Mullins and Ruby Walsh regarding the current well-being of the eight-year-old.

He was a cracking novice last season and his performance when winning the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March was quite breathtaking.

It seems crystal clear, judging by the the way the dosh has come for him, that a performance on a par with Cheltenham is now very much expected.

It will be great if it’s forthcoming and if Cooldine emerges as a genuine Gold Cup contender.

Wouldn’t you just love to see the proverbial cat getting in among the pigeons. The British press, in particular, are set for a field day on the approach to the Festival and will indulge in some serious Kauto Star versus Denman hype.

It will go on day-in and day-out and the notion of Cooldine pricking at least one of the balloons would be delightful.

Dunguib puts his reputation on the line in Sunday’s Deloitte Hurdle. He has hardly broken sweat in winning three races over flights to date.

At the moment Dunguib is a top-priced 5-4 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and if he strolls through Sunday’s test then the temptation to make him an odds-on chance for Cheltenham may well prove overwhelming for some firms.

The Dr PJ Moriarty Chase promises a terrific back-up to the Hennessy and Dunguib. Outside of Pandorama, who goes straight to the Festival, the best stayers we have to muster in this department are possibilities.

If Weapon’s Amnesty, Roberto Goldback, Cousin Vinny, Nicanor and Zaarito all face the starter then that’s going to be some contest.

lIT came as a bit of a shock to the system when reading Robert Power’s comments, after he had partnered Saludos to finish second behind Luska Lad at Punchestown last Sunday.

Power said that Saludos was “much happier” travelling left-handed. This about a horse who had already won over hurdles going right-handed, at Punchestown and Fairyhouse.

He did land a bumper at Navan, but has actually never won over flights left-handed. Anyway, I just wish I knew what it took to make Saludos “happy”. If I did, I wouldn’t have sent half of that wad spinning west last Sunday!

lIT will be terrific to get another opportunity to assess Captain Cee Bee at Naas on Saturday.

He’s in a novice chase over two miles and Eddie Harty will be looking for a clean round of jumping.

Most nuetral observers believed he would have beaten Sizing Europe at Leopardstown at Christmas, but for toppling at the final fence.

I don’t know whether he would or not, but Captain Cee Bee didn’t deserve to fall, because he really is a superb jumper.

Looking at Saturday’s entries, he looks a sure-fire odds-on shot and anything less than a clear-cut success is likely to leave Cheltenham aspirations in tatters.


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