Taranis still the fancy

TARANIS is holding on to his position as favourite for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham even though the gamble on Vodka Bleu shows no signs of waning.

The Paul Nicholls-trained five-year-old still heads the market for tomorrow’s feature at a general 7-2. However, support for Vodka Bleu continued on Thursday with Blue Square again cutting the price of the David Pipe-trained runner from 5-1 to 4-1.

The seven-year-old has been laid at a top price of 16-1 with the internet firm. Kate Miller, spokeswoman for Blue Square, said: “This will be one of the ante-post gambles of the last few years if Vodka Bleu can succeed on Saturday.

“Despite not having run since 2004, his form at novice level was top-drawer and he already has a win at Cheltenham on his CV.

“David Pipe has all the pedigree required to get one ready, and we’ll be battening down the hatches come 2.40 on Saturday.”

It was a similar story with William Hill, who have Vodka Bleu as a strong second favourite at 9-2. Their spokesman Ben Clarke added: “Vodka Bleu is currently 9-2 with us but with punters continuing to nibble at him, the price may not last much longer and he could be favourite by the weekend.”

Sponsor’s Paddy Power also reported continued support for the two market leaders.

“We’ve continued to lay both Taranis and Vodka Bleu throughout the day and are happy to do so for now. We’ve also had a lot of each-way support for the second Pipe horse Tamarinbleu since we pushed him out to 14-1 yesterday (from 12-1),” said Paddy Power, head of communications.

Vodka Bleu briefly shared favouritism with Taranis at 4-1 with totesport, but the latter is now 7-2 market leader following decent support.

New Alco may not be challenging for favouritism but as a 20-1 shot, he represents a fair each-way chance according to his trainer, Ferdy Murphy.

The ex-French five-year-old warmed up for the valuable handicap chase with a pleasing run at Wetherby last month.

In his first race since April, New Alco went down by 12 lengths to Mandingo Chief, who was receiving 24lb.

“He’s very well and has come out of his Wetherby race in fantastic shape,” said Murphy.

“He has a nice weight, the track should hold no fears for him and he jumps really well.

“He has a good man (Graham Lee) on top and we are really looking forward to it.”

Paddy Power Gold Cup betting:

Totesport: 7-2 Taranis, 4-1 Vodka Bleu, 8-1 Copsale Lad, 9-1 Kandjar D’Allier, 10-1 Tamarinbleu, 11-1 Chilling Place, 12-1 Knowhere, Too Forward, 16-1 Billyvoddan, Graphic Approach, New Alco, Tumbling Dice, 20-1 bar.

William Hill: 7-2 Taranis, 9-2 Vodka Bleu, 9-1 Copsale Lad, 10-1 Commercial Flyer, Kandjar D’Allier, 12-1 Chilling Place, 14-1 Contraband, Too Forward, 16-1 Knowhere, Graphic Approach, Tamarinbleu, Tumbling Dice, 20-1 bar.

Blue Square: 7-2 Taranis, 4-1 Vodka Bleu, 10-1 Kandjar D’Allier, Tamarinbleu, Copsale Lad, 12-1 Chilling Place, Too Forward, Commercial Flyer, 14-1 Knowhere, 16-1 Billyvoddan, Exotic Dancer, Bannow Strand, Graphic Approach, 20-1 bar.

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