Cooldine has been installed as favourite for tomorrow’s Lexus Chase at Leopardstown – if the meeting beats the weather.
After weeks of freezing conditions, the big worry now is waterlogging following recent rain and a thaw.
The ground is due to be heavy, but most of the contenders relish testing conditions with the likes of last year’s second and third Money Trix and Joncol among that band.
It is Willie Mullins’ Cooldine, however, who is market leader at 4-1 with Stan James following a decent comeback effort over a trip short of his best in the John Durkan.
Such an open betting heat does suggest there is a lack of a star in Ireland’s staying division, according to Charlie McCann of Stan James.
“Former RSA Chase winner Cooldine heads our market at 4-1 but we are not expecting a great shake up in the Gold Cup betting as it doesn’t look a vintage renewal of this great race which has been won by Best Mate, Beef Or Salmon and Denman in recent years,” he said.
“Indeed Mikael D’Haguenet, still a maiden over fences, is currently the shortest-priced Irish-trained runner in our betting for the 2011 Gold Cup at 20-1.”
Noel Meade’s Pandorama could develop into a smart horse but he needs a change of fortune.
Injury forced him to miss Cheltenham last season, while he was withdrawn at the start from an intended run at Down Royal after he was found to have blood coming from a nostril.
He then made an early mistake in the Hennessy at Newbury before being nearly brought down and eventually pulled up.
“Hopefully we can get Pandorama back on track, but it’s a tough ask for him,” said Meade.
“The season just hasn’t gone right for him so far, things have conspired against him, but that’s the way it goes.
“We’ve always thought he is the horse to run in this type of race, so we’re going there and we’re going to give it our best shot.
“The heavy ground should be fine for him.”
Nicky Richards would have preferred to have been able to run Money Trix before the Grade One, but the weather put paid to that plan.
“They are fairly positive it will be on so I’m just driving on the ferry. Hopefully it will be on,” said Richards.
“It can’t get soft enough for him so we’ve no worries on that score, it’s just a shame I couldn’t get a race into him.
“I was hoping to run him at Kelso or get a gallop into him at Haydock, they were both off but never mind. If it was just an ordinary race I’d be very happy going into it, but I’m just a little bit concerned I’m a prep-race short.
“One thing he does do is run very well fresh, he’s a clean-winded horse and we’re very happy with him.
“Davy (Russell) knows him better now. Last year he should have kicked on earlier as he’s just an out-and-out stayer. We’ll leave it up to him and hopefully everything will go fine tomorrow.”
The Listener won the race way back in 2006 and will be making his first appearance in well over a year for Nick Mitchell.
“He picked up a minor tendon injury in his last race which meant we had to stop dead with him but, touch wood, we’ve had a clear run with him,” said Mitchell.
“He’s 12 next week, but he doesn’t look an old horse. He’s got plenty of petrol left in the tank and he’s only run 28 times in his life.
“If he were to win another Grade One, that would make it one in each of the last five seasons which is no mean feat.
“The evidence suggests he is as good as he ever was. He’s very enthusiastic to the point of being a bit of an idiot sometimes.
“In the past we’ve come over and taken on Denman and Beef Or Salmon and there isn’t one of them in there, but the rest are Grade One horses in their own right so it will take a lot of winning.
“He’s got a proven track record though, and has been over and done it before.
“I think Joncol could be the one to beat. He’ll gallop and jump in this ground and even Notre Pere who has gone off the boil a little bit but is a good horse in this sort of ground.”
Lexus Chase – Stan James bet: 4-1 Cooldine, 11-2 J’y Vole, 6-1 Joncol, Pandorama, 8-1 Kempes, 9-1 Money Trix, 10-1 The Listener, 12-1 Glencove Marina, 20-1 Let Yourself Go, Notre Pere, 25-1 bar.