The declarations for the BetVictor Gold Cup will be announced this morning and the Nick Williams trained Siruh Du Lac has joined Slate House at the top of the market at 5/1 with the sponsors.
We start today’s preview in Ireland given the brilliant Douvan returns to the track in the Grade 2 Clonmel Oils Chase after a 569-day lay-off since he finished runner up to stablemate Un De Sceaux at Punchestown. Willie Mullins’ nine-year-old has a tremendous record fresh but Douvan has yet to race beyond the minimum trip and Monalee (2.50) is likely to ensure his fitness and stamina are tested to the full.
Douvan receives 5lbs from Henry de Bromhead’s 8-year-old who didn’t progress as I hoped he would last season despite winning a Grade 2 event at Gowran back in February. The selection also has a good record fresh and I hope to see BetVictor brand ambassador Rachel Blackmore make plenty of use of her mount. At their best both horses are outstanding fencers and we should be in for a real midweek treat ahead of Cheltenham’s November meeting.
In the listed mares’ chase Kupatana reverts to her optimum trip of two-and-a-half miles having blown the cobwebs away over three miles on her first start for De Bromhead at Wexford where she ran a much better race than her finishing position would suggest.
Kupatana’s fluent jumping looks sure to put pressure on Shattered Love (3.20) but the forecast soft ground sways me towards the Gordon Elliot-trained mare. The recommendation is entitled to improve on her 10L fifth in a Grade 2 at Gowran when her fencing was a bit rusty. She finished runner up to Min in the Grade 1 John Durkan back in December and a repeat of that form would make her very hard to beat.
There is a terrific novice chase at Taunton and Brewin’upastorm (2.35) gets the vote despite having to give 6lbs to Paul Nicholls’ Southfield Stone. The selection was given plenty to do but got up close home to beat Good Boy Bobby at Carlisle on his chase debut. I have reservations about the suitability of today’s tight track for the selection, but he is an exciting prospect. Southfield Stone showed a propensity for jumping out to his left at Exeter on his chase debut although he wasn’t helped by the fact that the leader Moonlighter also edged left over his obstacles.
There is a bit of rain forecast to hit the track but conditions are unlikely to be good to soft at worst and the 3m handicap chase is a belter. Overland Flyer and Brother Tedd should win races this term but neither would want significant rain and they lack a run this term. The each way vote goes to Kim Bailey’s Cresswell Legend (3.40) who ran well at Exeter on his reappearance and a flat right-handed track clearly suits.
Dusky Hercules (4.10) was no match for a couple of decent sorts in a novice hurdle – runner up Bathsheba Boy runs in the opener – and he could be well treated for his handicap debut for David Pipe in the finale.
The opening mares’ hurdle at Ludlow is a hot contest and I was a bit disappointed with the hurdles debut of Getariver although that was in a good novice hurdle at Cheltenham’s Showcase meeting. She is entitled to come for the run but Barry Geraghty looks to be owner JP McManus’s number 1 jockey in Britain only this season with Mark Walsh his preferred jockey in Ireland.
Geraghty rides French import Feuille De Chene (1.15) for Philip Hobbs and the selection won two of her three Bumpers in France with her sole defeat by a nose in a Grade 3 contest. Do look out for a market move for the Nick Williams-trained Felicidad who I always felt had the potential to win races over hurdles.
In the juvenile hurdle the same Hobbs/McManus/Geraghty axis have Gavrocheka (3.30) another French import who landed a Bumper before moving to Britain. The selection has been in the yard in Minehead since August and the trainer suggested she was a filly with a future in a recent interview with the Racing Post.