Paul Jones of Weatherbys - Day 4 update
Gold Cup Day is finally here and the gladiators have been presented with Good ground following a dry night with a little Good-to-Soft patches here and there. So how does this affect the major players? I think all ground comes the same to Imperial Commander, Long Run and Kauto Star but the lack of rain is a probable negative to the likes of Denman and Pandorama. The other Irish horses Kempes and China Rock should love it though as will Midnight Chase. Imperial Commander has been on the drift in recent days but Festival crowds are a loyal lot and I reckon they will come for him before the race and send him off favourite.
The Triumph Hurdle is arguably the most ground-affected race at the Festival as it features plenty of ex Flat horses but, one of those, Unaccompanied, is said to prefer soft ground so maybe conditions will not to be her liking but an Irish-trained filly won the other juvenile hurdle at this meeting when What A Charm took the Fred Winter so lightning could strike twice as he is certainly all quality. Sam Winner is another that is expected to prefer softer ground as is Smad Place but this surface is likely to play into the hands of Grandouet, A Media Luz and Third Intention.
This looks the best County Hurdle run for many a season and it is big shame that Snap Tie has be taken out this morning. The Imperial Cup winner Alarazi bids to become the seventh winner of this race to win at the Festival and has a big chance as does his brother Alaivan who had his form franked massively on Wednesday when Carlito Brigante hacked up here on Wednesday having beaten him in a match on his previous start. The Martin Pipe Hurdle and the Grand Annual are the other two viciously competitive handicaps on the day and Sir Des Champs is certainly the most intriguing runner in the former and Nicky Henderson has two live chances in the latter with Tanks For That and Anquetta though David Pipe's handicappers were in blinding form yesterday and I'msingingtheblues has to be a massive player.
As for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle the ground could play into the hands of Bobs Worth and Champion Court to aid them in stepping up in trip. The Foxhunters' is looking like a big Anglo-Irish match up between Baby Run and On The Fringe who head the market by a substantial margin but Gone To Lunch runs the course well and will love the ground so is one to note for each-way purposes.