Racing pundit Tony McCormick from www.irishbigracetrends.com presents his weekly colum and this week asks his panel who will win the Gold Cup and the tale of the two Dons.
Now in its third year, The Cheltenham Festival ‘Virtual’ Preview has proved to be popular among Cheltenham Fans, with contributions from the likes of Racing UK’s Andy Richmond, Jumpers To Follow author Paul Ferguson, Timeform and William Radio pundit Rory Delargy, as well as Matt Bisogno, Ben Aitken and Racing Plus racing editor Nick Robson.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup
Rory Delargy: “I’m hoping that Bryan Cooper chooses Don Poli as the pair are well suited, and I’d love to see Davy Russell come in for the ride on Don Cossack. He’d just be my pick if that were the case.
“The key to this race is the going.
“He wouldn’t win an egg-and-spoon Gold Cup on soft, however, and it’s best to wait on the weather before getting seriously involved.
“The best result, of course, would be Cue Card winning, and he’s had a perfect preparation, it seems. Only the hardest heart would begrudge him victory, but that doesn’t necessarily make him value, of course.”
Ben Aitken: “I suspect Cooper goes for Don Poli and Russell will by default go with Don Cossack.”
“David Mullins may end up on Valseur Lido or, heaven forbid, Jacques Ricou. At the minute I’m a Don Poli man and it’s a bit of a struggle to pinpoint anything out with the head of the market at present.
Matt Bisogno: “There are holes in plenty at the top end – stamina and/or jumping ability – so I wouldn’t be afraid to take a punt on something further down the lists.
“Smad Place is a different horse this year and, though he needs to prove himself in G1 company, he’s better than when he last ran at that level.
“Carlingford Lough is a horrific jumper, but he won the Grade One Irish Gold Cup last time and is still available at 33/1.
“He’ll stay so it might be worth chancing.”
Andy Richmond: “Of the Dons it may well be the grinding style of Don Poli that is better suited to Cheltenham although I can see Cooper riding Don Cossack and trying to atone for his poor ride on the horse last year.
“It’s just Cue Card and Smad Place for the home team but I wouldn’t be confident about the 10-year-old Cue Card and Smad Place will surely find this too tough a test – I could see Cue Card getting into a place.”
Nick Robson: “All the noises suggest Bryan Cooper will go for Don Poli leaving Davy Russell to ride Don Cossack. I don’t fancy either to be fair.
“I’d be cheering Cue Card on if he’s still in contention over the last.”
Paul Ferguson: “Despite his fall on trials day, last year’s runner-up Djakadam is the horse I would back at the current prices.”