I think Apple’s Shakira will take all the beating here.
He will absolutely love the ground and I’d be hopeful of him staying the trip, too. Experience is key in this race and his grounding in points – he won his sole start in heavy ground – and bumpers will stand him in good stead. His hurdles form isn’t too bad, either. He ran below par last time and obviously his stand-out hurdles efforts was his short-head second to Poetic Rhythm in the Challow Hurdle, in which I kicked on early and the horse showed a lot of character to battle back when headed. That suggested to me that 3m is well worth a try and, as I said, he will relish the conditions. It’s a very strong race but I liked what Santini did here last time.
We all know what a good horse he is around Kempton, and his form here isn’t too bad, either. His good runs at this track include a third in the Close Brothers here in 2016, so I don’t have any fears about his ability to act on the track. Clearly, he goes into the unknown here on heavy ground in a Gold Cup– though he ran well for a long way in the Grand National – but I think a lot of people are underestimating him here. The facts of the matter are that Might Bite is the favourite here and we ran him to a length in the 32Red King George, fully justifying our faith in the horse. I thought I actually might go and win the race when we winged the last, but the favourite, who admittedly was probably idling, just held us on the run-in. Conditions may not be ideal here, but you have to go into this race full of belief after that career-best. He comes here in really good order, and I think he will be on the premises if handling the conditions. It’s a very open Gold Cup, and there are any number of possible winners. Hopefully, I am among those. I thought Might Bite was the one to beat all along, but in this ground Native River could be the likeliest winner.
He needs one to come out to get a run, so fingers crossed! I give him a fair chance, if he does. We were running this horse over 2m4f until recently, and he was winning too, but the step down to 2m has really suited him. He finished an excellent third in the Red Rum at Aintree, and has run a couple of good races this season. He doesn’t look to have too much in hand of the handicapper but I think a strongly-run 2m around here could really suit him and he handles good and testing ground alike. I give him a good each-way chance.
Find 32Red’s latest odds for the Cheltenham Festival here – and remember, we offer price boosts on every UK and Irish racing event, as well as enhanced multiples and jockey specials. If you’re still up for a flutter, be sure to check out our award-winning casino too!