Lalor could follow in the footsteps of the likes of Frodon and Poquelin and provide Paul Nicholls with a sixth Racing Post Gold Cup win. Other key contedners are
Midnight Shadow is aiming to become just the fourth horse to complete the Paddy Power and Racing Post Gold Cup double when he lines up for Cheltenham’s feature race on Saturday.
The Sue Smith-trained gelding will join the likes of Pegwell Bay, Senor El Betrutti and Exotic Dancer if he can overcome a 7lb rise for his three-quarter length victory over subsequent runaway Grade 2 winner Protektorat in the Grade 3 contest.
Midnight Shadow is an 8-1 chance with Grosvenor Sport but the layers expect Paddy Power Gold Cup third Lalor to turn that form around on 5lb better terms.
They make the Paul Nicholls representative 4-1 favourite to go two places better on just his second start for the 12-times champion trainer, who has been responsible for the only two horses (Poquelin and Frodon) to win this race twice.
Fifteen runners go to post for this hugely competitive two-mile, four-and-half furlong steeplechase and we’ve taken a look at every one in our tipping guide.
Racing Post Gold Cup runner guide
CEPAGE – Pulled up in this race 12 months ago and although he ran well to finish fourth in the Ultima over this C&D at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, has never won off a mark this high. Mixed record fresh.
MIDNIGHT SHADOW – Raised 7lb for beating subsequent runaway Grade 2 winner Protektorat by three-quarters of a length in the Paddy Power Gold Cup (Lalor and Dostal Phil both close behind) but last fence blunder cost him valuable momentum so might be value for a bit more than the winning margin. Twice a winner on the New course so another bold bid on the cards.
FUSIL RAFFLES – Has to go down as one of the most fortunate winners of the season in the Charlie Hall Chase given he was around 20 lengths behind Shan Blue when the leader crashed out at the last fence. However, is a young horse open to improvement, is a winner at this track and is interesting now moved into a handicap.
LALOR – Grade 1-winning hurdler but lost his way over fences until a hugely encouraging staying-on third in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, his first start for Paul Nicholls. New connections will have learned a lot from that run and Nicholls has won this race more times than anyone else, so impossible to ignore despite the poor recent record of favourites.
SILVER HALLMARK – Lightly-raced but highly-regarded chaser who already has a Grade 2 success under his belt. Tough task at the weights when beaten 10 lengths by Fiddlerontheroof (subsequent Ladbrokes Trophy Chase runner-up) and has to be of strong interest switching to a handicap off 145, although could do with some rain as ideally wants soft ground.
ZANZA – Two solid efforts in handicap chases this term and appears to be improving in the jumping department. Made up a lot of ground late on in the Paddy Power Gold Cup so could easily have a say in this if able to hold a better early pitch.
DOSTAL PHIL – Fared best of those to come from off the pace when coming home well to finish fourth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup. That was first try over this trip so open to improvement and has a serious chance of turning form around with winner on 6lb better terms.
FRANCKY DU BERLAIS – Out of form in two starts this year and still 6lb higher than Market Rasen win in the summer. Hard to fancy.
SIRUH DU LAC – Failed to complete three of last four starts and comes with serious risks but won a competitive handicap chase over this C&D in January 2019 so no forlorn hope if he can return to form but is still 9lb higher and has never won off a rating this high.
COOLE CODY – Well beaten in this race last year off same mark as today and was facing a big challenge when falling two out in the Paddy Power Gold Cup. Yet to win a race on the New course and although has a fantastic attitude, will need a career-best to win this.
DEYRANN DE CARJAC – Not won a race since 2019 and couldn’t get competitive when beaten around ten lengths in the Paddy Power Gold Cup. Needs to find some improvement to figure.
FARINET – Non-runner in Paddy Power Gold Cup because ground was too quick and conditions unlikely to be soft enough again this time. Strong stayer over this trip and has potential off this mark but conditions a worry.
JOKE DANCER – Wins have all been around two miles and doesn’t look a strong enough stayer to be competitive at the business end.
BEAKSTOWN – Grade 2 winner over hurdles. Hasn’t won over fences, however has run some encouraging races in defeat, notably when a keeping-on fifth in a handicap chase at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival. Will strip fitter for his Aintree return and doesn’t look at all badly handicapped so a big run wouldn’t be a huge surprise.
TOPOFTHECOTSWOLDS – Best form all on a sound surface so conditions should suit and is only 1lb higher than when second in a decent handicap chase at Wetherby last month. Competitively weighted but will need to do better to win a race as strong as this.
Racing Post Gold Cup Verdict
The Paddy Power Gold Cup looks the key form line. Midnight Shadow might struggle to confirm that form with one or two of those that finished close behind.
Dostal Phil is tempting but Paul Nicholls has a strong record in this race and a big run from LALOR looks very much on the cards after he shaped with so much promise on stable debut.
Silver Hallmark has plenty of a potential and looks the biggest danger to the selection.
Big race odds with Grosvenor Sport
4 Lalor, 5 Dostal Phil, 6 Silver Hallmark, 7 Farinet, 8 Midnight Shadow, Coole Cody, 9 Fusil Raffles, 11 Zanza, 12 Cepage, Beakstown, 16 Siruh Du Lac, 33 Deyrann De Carjac, Joke Dancer, Topofthecotswolds, 40 Francky Du Berlais. *odds correct at time of publication, subject to change
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