Don Poli’s past exploits at the Cheltenham Festival suggests that his legions of doubters are wrong to suspect he is too slow to win the Gold Cup.
Convinced as much by the dour nature of his victories over Many Clouds and First Lieutenant this term, those detractors are only likely to have been swayed further by the good ground over the first three days at Prestbury Park.
However, he has won three of his four career runs over 2m4f, including when taking the Martin Pipe at the Festival, two years ago to the day.
That was one of two wins from as many runs on good ground for the son of Poliglote, the other being when he took the RSA Chase at Cheltenham a year later.
No other horse in the field boasts a 100% record on good ground from as large a sample and he is a solid 5/1 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Both those victories also came on the New Course, on which he will contest steeplechasing’s blue riband and once again it’s a record none of his rivals, not even multiple Festival winner Cue Card, can match.
Question marks over his opposition are more pertinent.
Don Cossack (11/4) has flunked consecutive Festival exams, Cue Card is unproven as a stayer, with 3m2f at Cheltenham far more demanding than 3m at Kempton.
Djakadam is bidding to join an extremely select group of horses to win having been defeated in the race a year previously, Smad Place’s vast improvement this term has come on soft going and the rest of the field are unlikely to be good enough.
Neither Don Poli’s unbeaten record on the going, nor the course, nor the question marks over his rivals have proven enough to convince the Gigginstown House Stud’s retained rider Bryan Cooper to choose him over the same owners’ Don Cossack, but that might be no bad thing.
The jockey has never piloted a Gold Cup winner, unlike Davy Russell, the man who will ride Cooper’s cast-off in the Gold Cup.
Russell came from the clouds aboard Lord Windermere to score with a ride of breathtaking composure in 2014, having been out of sight when the leaders leapt the last.
Unlike his pace, Don Poli’s staying power is beyond dispute and the Cork man’s judging of the pace that day will stand in good stead on his 2016 mount.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.