The £160,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup is the highlight of Cheltenham’s three-day open festival this weekend as the jumps season revs up a gear.
There’s more plots being hatched than your average episode of Eastenders as the powerhouse stables both sides of the Irish Sea chase the big bucks – and the consolation prize of having to shake Paddy’s hand.
We’ve gone through the stats with all the manic seriousness of a Roy Keane-training session and together with the good people in design (mainly their work) – come up with this flashy Infographic (below) to identify the likely contenders.
Martin Keighley’s Champion Court has been steadily punted all week and the traders’ Christmas bonus is on the line if this one wins. Course form has been a huge pointer in picking the winner with the last 10 victors all having a run at the Cotswolds before trying to nick a few quid off Paddy. Champion Court has won three times and been placed three times in nine runs at the track. He could go round here blind-folded.
The Pipe team is the scourge of the bean-counters at the Power Tower having plundered this race nine times in its history. David Pipe won it in two season ago with Great Endeavour and relies on Ballynagour – having had two other entries earlier in the week. Pipe Jnr has marked your card here and this one can’t be discounted.
DESIGN: Eleonare Kellenberger
Unlike Manchester United this season, this race doesn’t tend to throw up too many shock results.
Seven of the last 11 winners came from the first three or four in the betting. The trick is to find a potential Grade One winner masquerading as a handicapper for the day. Nigel Twiston-Davies has won this twice recently and his 2008 winner Imperial Commander went on to win the Gold Cup two seasons later.
Sam Waley-Cohen managed to get 2010 Gold Cup winner Long Run beaten in this when 2/1f in 2010 – before winning the Blue Riband the following March. The amatuer rides Rajdhani Express – a Cheltenham Festival winner last season- for Nicky Henderson. The champion trainer also saddles top-weight Finian’s Rainbow – but hasn’t won this contest since 2003.
JP McManus’s squad have won every trophy going but he turns all Arsene Wenger-like when it comes to the Paddy Power Gold Cup. He’s yet to land the prize and throws three darts at the board. Record-breaker AP McCoy rides Tap Nigh, while Colour Squadron and Nadiya De La Vega make up the threesome.
Jonjo O’Neil’s runners have hit Paddy where it hurts over the years at Cheltenham. His lightly-weighted Johns Spirit was a convincing winner at this track last month and the jungle drums have been beating loudly about his chances this week.
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