Paddy Power Gold Cup Preview, Trends, Tips
The first big race of the National Hunt season proper is the Paddy Power Gold Cup - the Mackeson as it used to be known. Run at Cheltenham over two and a half miles (and about another 100 metres) of the Old Course, which is currently riding soft.
Nineteen are set to face the tapes, and it should be a cracking betting race. Here are the trends since 1997, courtesy of horseracebase...
Paddy Power Gold Cup Trends
Last time out winners have taken eight of the last seventeen renewals (47%), from just 73 starters (27%). Horses finishing first or second last time have claimed eleven Paddy Power's since 1997 (65%) from 120 runners (45%).
Six- and seven-year-olds have won all bar one renewal since 2003.
The impact of weight seems to be overplayed in this race, with those carrying eleven stone or more since 1997 having won six of the 17 events (35%) from 31% of the runners. It should be noted that the last winner to lug more than 11-09 was Bradbury Star in 1994 (11-11).
Those without a win in their last five starts are 0 from 47 since 1997.
Course experience counts (see this post) and in this race 65% of winners since 1997 had raced at the track between three and ten times previously.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup is a Grade 3 (a subset of Class 1) event and, surprisingly for me, only one winner since 1997 had raced in Class 1 more than twice previously. Ten winners in that time, from 107 qualifiers, were stepping into Class 1 for the first time, and they were profitable to follow at SP.
76.5% of winners since 1997 had won at Cheltenham previously, from 44.5% of the runners. Those with a single previous course score won 9 from 79 horses to start: that's 53% of the winners from 30% of the runners.
Horses with between one and three wins or places at the track won 14 of the last 17 renewals (82%) from 58% of the runners.
So where does that leave us? To summarize, we might conclude that a young horse on the up and with a fair share of weight but not the full stack could be optimal, especially if that horse has a recent 1-2 finish and has shown form - ideally winning form - at the track previously.
That quite specific profile is matched by Edgardo Sol, Buywise, and Present View.
Paddy Power Gold Cup Form Preview
It's hardly a surprise that the market is led by two of the three trends horses, Buywise and Present View, and both look sure to be popular propositions.
Buywise has had just six chase starts, winning four, and has progressed up the handicap at a rate of knots. It would be folly to suggest his improvement is complete, but he does have a tendency to clout the odd obstacle on his way round which could be the difference in this ferociously competitive heat.
As a Cheltenham winner (though on the New Course, this will be run on the Old Course) who handles the ground however it manifests itself, he may go off favourite, but he'll need luck in running - both in terms of his own fencing and the fact that he tends to sit quietly off the pace - to oblige.
Present View is a course and distance winner on this specific piste, having got the better of Attaglance in the Novices' Handicap Chase at the Festival in March. He should have been collared by Attaglance that day, and he has since been bettered by Vicente.
That last day defeat was in a novice hurdle however - the same prep path adopted by connections of Buywise - and the margin was a head. Little lost there then in what was warm up for this weekend. With a versatile run style, and more progression virtually assured, he is a legitimate contender for favouritism. Soft ground will have increased optimism in the Snowden camp too.
Indian Castle has been well backed, and he ticks a lot of boxes, with soft turf playing to his stamina forte. The form of Ian Williams would be a slight niggle, on first start for the yard having switched from Donald McCain, but Indian Castle has gone well fresh in the past which is a plus after 247 days away from the track.
The top weighted pair of Oscar Whisky and Johns Spirit are both extremely likable sorts, but their respective futures surely lie in Graded contests, the concession of seven pounds and more likely beyond them. Nevertheless, both are well suited to conditions and it would be no kind of a shock if either was to pull off the best weight-carrying performance since Bradbury Star in 1994.
Further down the lists, I thought Eastlake was of some interest. Third in the two mile handicap chase at this meeting last year, he went on to run well in the Grand Annual at the Festival, staying on over the inadequate two miles of that race. Stepped up in trip but on a flatter track, Eastlake then ran third in the Topham before a pleasing reappearance over two miles at Chepstow last time.
That run will have brought him close to peak fitness, so with trip, track, and ground likely to fit, Jonjo's apparent second string could easily outrun odds of 25/1.
And I must also mention the remaining trends shortlist horse, Edgardo Sol. Second in the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase at Aintree last time, he knows the Cheltenham hurdles courses like the back of his hoof. Whilst this will be his first sight of the chase strip, 150 doesn't look out of the question from a ratings perspective. The ground could just be a bit too squelchy for his tastes, however, and that's enough to put me off anything more than a small action wager.
Paddy Power Gold Cup Tips
This year's Paddy Power, like many before it, could easily go the way of the top of the market and either Buywise or Present View. But the fact I can't split them makes it hard to recommend backing both at about 3/1 combined (though I will have undoubtedly made worse suggestions on this virtual sketchpad down the years!)
If my life depended on it, I think I'd just side with Present View over Buywise, for his greater tactical versatility and generally smoother jumping.
But at the prices, I'm happy to try Eastlake each way with a bookie paying five places, at 25/1.
Paddy Power Gold Cup Bookie Offers
There are also a few good bookie specials for Saturday, and I've pulled together a couple of them below.
Present View - 10/1
If you like Present View - and I do like him - then you can enjoy a range of enhance prices about his chance.
Winner Sports are offering 10/1 about this general 6/1 shot, which makes him perfectly playable. It's a new account offer, max stake £10, and if you don't have an account with them, this might be of interest.
Money Back as a free bet if the Favourite wins the first race
This offer is from Skybet and is open to all customers. In truth, it's a trappy old race, but if you have a fancy in it aside from the jolly, Skybet should be your port of call assuming they're competitive on price.
[New customers will also get a £20 free bet when placing their first £5 cash bet]