The Irish Gold Cup is arguably the blue riband event of this weekend’s racing programme and as you’d expect it’s attracted another stellar field to Leopardstown.
Currently heading the market is Gordon Ellliott’s Don Poli, a three-time winner in Grade 1 company, with a CV that includes RSA Chase and Lexus Chase victories.
Battling him for favouritism is another Gigginstown House Stud-owned charge in the shape of Empire of Dirt.
When Jack Kennedy is in the saddle you get the feeling that anything is possible. And it’s certainly not beyond the realms of imagination that this season’s Troytown Chase winner will successfully negotiate another step up in class.
However, the biggest storyline of the race concerns the hat-trick chasing Carlingford Lough.
John Kiely’s veteran owes his yard nothing but there surely won’t be a dry eye in the house should the 11-year-old emulate both Jodami and Florida Pearl by landing this event for the third year running.
It should be noted though that recent form and trends are against the course and distance hero.
Seven of the last 10 Irish Gold Cup winners finished in the first three on their previous completed start.
Granted, Carlingford Lough’s fourth-placed finish in a pipe-opener over hurdles is easily forgivable. But if you’re a stickler for statistics then you might want to approach with caution.
Another interesting nugget is the fact that each of the last 10 renewal winners enjoyed an outing post-Christmas Day.
Empire of Dirt and Minella Rocco fall foul here, while on the flip-side, Sizing John catches the eye.
Now rated 164 following his Kinloch Brae Chase win, the Jessica Harrington-trained seven-year-old will make the step up to three miles for the first time.
Connections are adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach with regards to this latest test but even the most cautious amongst them must be feeling that their charge has got more than a tiny squeak of landing this prestigious prize.
Elsewhere, Zabana, Road to Riches and former Ladbrokes World Hurdle winner More of That make up the rest of the field.
Ladbrokes Latest Betting:
2017 Irish Gold Cup
Don Poli – 11/4
Empire of Dirt – 10/3
Minella Rocco – 9/2
Carlingford Lough – 5/1
Sizing John – 6/1
Zabana – 9/1
Road to Riches – 16/1
More of That – 20/1
Click here for the latest Irish Gold Cup odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing