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Imperious. Majestic. Scintillating. Just three superlatives that can be used to describe Vautour’s display yesterday in the Ryanair. Some punters who had backed Willie Mullins’ charge for the Gold Cup on the ante-post markets may have been seething as they saw the talented gelding saunter to victory, prompting questions as to whether he could have done the same thing in the main event on Friday. Regardless, the NAP was landed on Thursday, and while we shouldn’t be getting carried away backing odds on shots, the result was never in doubt as Vautour jumped with verve, travelled with zest, and showed his star quality up the hill. Thursday was a bloodbath for bookmakers but the tables could be turned in the final act, as Friday presents probably the toughest test of the week for punters.
3.30 Cheltenham – Gold Cup
A race steeped in history, the Gold Cup has been won by horses who have carved their name in racing folklore. The likes of Kauto Star, Denman and Long Run have been victorious in Cheltenham’s main event in recent years, and whilst there doesn’t appear to be a horse of that calibre in the line-up, the race does look very competitive. Last year’s second Djakadam heads the market for, yes, you guessed it…Willie Mullins. He does however have to bounce back from a fall last time out and if all of the other principles stand up, it would be disappointing were one not good enough to beat him.
The selection is Don Cossack who hasn’t always been the most proficient of jumpers himself, but he has won 5 out of his last 6 races, and would have probably made it a full set had he not fallen two from home at Kempton in the King George (was staying on dourly at the time after getting outpaced). Officially the second highest rated horse in the race (1lb behind Cue Card who was eventually victorious in the King George), but is probably the strongest stayer, and the son of Sholokhov performs particularly well on good ground. Anything like a clear round of jumping should see him challenging in the home straight, and so long as his jumping holds up, he should go very close to winning. Odds of 4.0 appeal as value and we see the horse as more of a 3.0 chance.
Don Cossack to win the Gold Cup
Cheltenham Festival, Friday 18th March, 15.30 GMT
Odds: 3/1 4.00 +300 3.00 3.00 -0.33