Hayley O’Connor: Take on Kings Palace in the Paddy Power Gold Cup


The Open Meeting at Cheltenham is already in full swing, but the action at Prestbury Park will turn up a notch at the weekend.

The Paddy Power Gold Cup is the feature race, and the market is headed by David Pipe’s Kings Palace, but for me, there are better options out there.

He may be four from six at Cheltenham, but he does like to have things his own way in his races, which he is unlikely to get.

This is as short a trip he’s tackled, with him being campaigned over three miles for all of last season, and he could find himself tapped for a bit of toe.

I like him and obviously the fact he is trained by Pipe means you have to take him seriously. However, at the price he is I wouldn’t be too sure about backing him.

I’m happy to oppose him at 7/1 or 8/1 and think there are better options in this open race.

Kings Palace: Paddy Power Gold Cup favourite and 16/1 shot for the Ryanair

Kings Palace: Paddy Power Gold Cup favourite and 16/1 shot for the Ryanair

Irish Cavalier is one that Rebecca Curtis said would be going over further after his win the last time, but connections have obviously decided to keep him at this sort of trip. I think he could be really interesting proposition.

Another one that could be of interest is Johns Spirit. He was so close to defending his crown last year, going down by just a nose. His record in the race is so good, and with Ladbrokes offering a top price on Jonjo O’Neill’s horse you’d have to stick him in there as an each-way selection.

But the one I really like is Art Mauresque. It will be a totally different affair to anything he has faced previously because he’s only really ever run against a handful of runners.

The hurly burly of the race could either give him a huge fright or he could fit that profile of the horse that wins this race, which is of one that ran in novice company in the season previous and is open to plenty of improvement and he fits that bill for me.

Paul Nicholls trained an improving five-year-old to win this last year with Caid Du Berlais, and this horse could be similar. He could be over-faced in a large field, but I am willing to take my chances at a bigger price.

Sprinter Sacre: I'll be willing him home on Sunday

Sprinter Sacre: I’ll be willing him home on Sunday

I am a massive Sprinter Sacre fan so I will be watching anxiously on Sunday when he goes in the Shloer Chase (14:10).

Even if he is 70 per cent right, he should win this which makes it even more nerve racking as a fan, as you would worry about what he has got left in the locker.

He hasn’t won since 2013 and pulled up twice last season, but he also came second in both the Celebration Chase and the Clarence House Chase, so it must have been a tricky decision for Nicky Henderson on whether to keep him in training.

He was good at Sandown last time and while I don’t think we will ever see him back to his brilliant best, but you’d certainly like to see him go out on a high.

It doesn’t look the strongest season in the two-mile chase division, so if back on song he could have a good year, but I’ll certainly be watching the action at Prestbury Park with a small amount of anxiety.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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