CeeBee previews the Haldon Gold Cup and God's Own is a confident selection to repeat last year's success. He has a saver bet on Dunraven Storm as well.
14.20 Exeter – Haldon Gold Cup Chase – Grade 2 (Limited Handicap) – 2m1f
The important element of the title is ‘handicap’. Whilst it attracts top class horses every year, from a betting angle the Haldon Gold Cup must be looked at as a handicap. Last year Cue Card was attempting to give 10 & 17lbs to his rivals yet still went off 13/8f. The previous year he was 11/10f when failing to give Somersby 17lbs. This year’s market reminds me of those affairs as top rated Sire du Grugy attempts to give 7lbs+ to all his rivals yet still heads the market.
Sire du Grugy runs off 167 here but it’s been a while (almost 18mts) since he’s ran to a mark like that. His form tailed off a little last term after a few injuries. Also against him is his form when fresh, after a 60-day break it reads 6141U. The two wins came in a weak beginner’s chase and a handicap off 161 in the season he became champion chaser, both relatively easy races. This won’t be so easy. He missed his planned reappearance a few weeks ago as Gary Moore decided he wasn’t fit enough to do himself justice, there must still be a worry he’ll be short of fitness if he required more than usual work after summering strongly.
Vibrato Valtat went into last season’s Arkle with, in my opinion, a great chance of troubling Un de Sceaux. He didn’t get anywhere close and then ran only averagely in Aintree and Sandown. His novice chase wins probably looked better than the actual form amounted to; beating Top Gamble, Three Kingdoms and Dunraven Storm. Off 157 now - he’d want to have been beating all those. It usually pays not to oppose Nicholls in the feature race and his string are in decent form, but Vibrato Valtat’s form first time out is a worry for me. Beaten off 138 first time out last term and overall form figures after a 60day break of 2253. Despite winning 4 times last season he was not the most straightforward ride requiring one long late finishing burst. Too many negatives to take 5/2.
Third Intention with 3 wins in his last 23 starts wouldn’t inspire too much confidence. His recent 2nd at Chepstow didn’t look a strong race on paper and hasn’t worked out too well. Often at his best fresh it’s unlikely he’ll find the necessary improvement to win off a career high mark.
Gods Own won this last year off 155, first time out. Now off 160 he has a solid chance. It was a decent renewal last year with his nearest challengers Balder Success and Oscars Hill eventually finishing the season on higher marks. A good record fresh (2U112), coming from a stable in form (3 winners & 2 seconds in last 7 runners). At his best going right handed and probably better over the extended 2mile trip rather than the bare 2miles he will love this test. Second best in the Arkle he gave Un de Sceaux a race in fairness and finished 7L clear of Vibrato Valtat and 13L clear of Court Ministrel. He gives them 3lbs and 6lbs respectively here so should hold them again. He ran ok in defeat at Aintree bumping into a smart, fresh, rival. Gods Own was 6L ahead of Court Minstrel that day.
Court Minstrel – non runner now.
10yr old Dunraven Storm is the outsider of the party, but this is a handicap and none of those above him look exactly chucked in so he has a chance even if he just runs to his mark. A course and distance winner in a decent beginners chase at the start of last season so today’s test won’t hold any issues. He then defeated Vibrato Valtat at Cheltenham (when receiving 4lbs) before finishing 2L behind him at Sandown (off levels). A 9lbs weight concession here suggests on those two runs that Dunraven Storm could quite easily finish ahead of Vibrato Valtat. Dunraven’s form tailed off in the spring but most his winning over the past few years has come in October and November so I wouldn’t be too worried that he can put up a good display here. With two runs to his name already this season he’ll have a fitness edge on most. His last effort was a respectable 3rd at the Showcase meeting at Cheltenham. If he improves a few lbs from that effort he’ll go close enough. The Hobbs yard are another to be going well (3 winners & 2 seconds from last 6 starts).
Summary: With everything in his favour Gods Own is the most likely winner and should be backed at 10/3 but Dunraven Storm is overpriced and worth a small saver at 7/1 as I’m eager to take on the other 3.
3 points win Gods Own at 10/3 with Paddy Power and Coral
1 point win Dunraven Storm at 7/1 with Stan James