L’Ami could make it a vintage year for French

WHAT makes a Gold Cup horse? Plenty of things, really, but stamina and high cruising speed are the basics.

Lots of classy horses run in a Gold Cup but they just don't stay. Cool Ground was a classic example of a moderate beast that won a Gold Cup because he could stay all day. Cool Dawn was another one. Best Mate was a classy horse but he could go all day as well.

Of course, you have to be able to jump as well and that's why I'm going for the French horse L'Ami.

He finished fourth behind Trabolgan in the SunAlliance Novices' Chase last year and two lengths behind the same horse in the Hennessy at Newbury last November. If Trabolgan was in this race he'd be odds-on.

L'Ami is a big price and he would like the ground a little bit softer but it's not getting any firmer right now and I'm going with him.

If I had to pick an Irish horse it would be War Of Attrition, for whom the ground will definitely suit but I have to discount the chances of Beef Or Salmon.

He just doesn't like jumping downhill and most of the fences at Cheltenham are downhill. The way I read the race panning out, Beef Or Salmon will run well but he'll jump the first few fences slowly, plod through the race and stay on like a steam train at the end. But by that time the winner will already be out of reach.

I watched a few videos of Best Mate and Beef Or Salmon came close to him in a few races but he does his best work at the end of the race and, I repeat, he does not like the downhill fences. So for all his qualities, Cheltenham just does not suit him.

Monkerhostin is the second favourite but I think his run in the King George, when he was second to Kicking King, flattered him.

Impek was too close to him for third and Impek didn't get the trip that day while Kicking King was, for me, below par that day.

I would be worried about Celestial Gold if Martin Pipe's horses had been running better but they're far from that.

Just look at yesterday when Bannow Strand was pulled up. I tipped that, so once bitten In a funny sort of way, the one good thing in his favour is that he hasn't run since last year's Gold Cup but it would be a risky bet.

Sir Rembrandt has a great record in this race, second behind Best Mate in 2004 and third behind Kicking King a year ago.

He's by Mandalus and his offspring are noted for running genuinely. But he's just got wiser and wiser and has subsequently lost the heart to take on this test.

Iris's Gift is a curiosity in the field by my reckoning. He won the 2004 Stayers' Hurdle and wasn't even entered for it this year.

He doesn't jump that well and even fell during a schooling session. The owner, Robert Lester, bypassed the Royal & SunAlliance Chase this year for a crack at this, the Blue Riband, after visiting a fortune teller who told him his horse would win the Gold Cup!

If you want a long shot stick a couple of quid each way on Royal Emperor. Harvey and Sue Smith's horse is a 66-1 long shot but when I was speaking to Harvey the other day about Undeniable, my each way tip in Wednesday's Kim Muir, he couldn't stop talking about this horse instead.

Harvey says he is flying, absolutely buzzing.

As for the rest of the card, Mister Hight was the ante-post favourite in the Triumph Hurdle and he's a very good horse but the ground may be too quick.

Nicky Henderson's yard is flying and Afsoun is a good horse but had a hiccup in training which goes against him.

Which is why I'm going for Detroit City. Philip Hobbs is a modest kind of a trainer, so when he talks up a horse as he has done with Detroit City, you have to take it into consideration.

Black Jack Ketchum is the standout in the second race but will be a very short-priced favourite so if you want an each way value bet, go for Oscar Park, for whom Colin Tinkler is a smart trainer and Tom Doyle a very good jockey who is one for the future.

I'm going for Boneyarrow as an each way bet in the Foxhunter Chase.

Jamie Codd is an excellent jockey for Eoin Griffin's horse, which has been running in point-to-points and so hasn't been overexposed.

Harbour Pilot has a lot of class after two thirds in the Gold Cup but he can be a bit of a handful and Paul Carberry did well to get him round. Nina Carberry rides today and she is an up and coming jockey but I have my doubts about the horse at such a short price.

Nicky Henderson has four runners in the Grand Annual, a race now named after his father, Johnny Henderson.

His horses are flying at the minute and I know how much he'll want to win this race. Of his four horses I'm going for Tysou.

The final race of the meeting is the feature handicap of the day, the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle and I'm going for Studmaster, who even at a heavy weight of 11st 8lbs looks like he's stayed ahead of the handicap.

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