Bryan Cooper: My horse is 16/1 in this race and that could underestimate his chances
He is a very decent horse on his day, as he showed when third in a big-field 3m handicap hurdle here at this meeting last year, but his form this season hasn’t been as good. He has run two fair races since switching back to hurdles from fences but he needs to step up from those efforts to be winning this. He has each-way claims at his best though, and 2m4f on decent ground should be fine for him.
It is no surprise to see Presenting Percy being tried in Grade 1 company after his impressive win off a mark of 146 in the Pertemps and he is probably the form horse here on that effort. But Penhill looked equally as good when beating Monalee in the Albert Bartlett last time, and it is no surprise that those two head the betting. However, I wouldn’t rule out a shock in this race. I was a big fan of Tin Soldier going into Cheltenham and I wasn’t in the least bit surprised that he was well backed for the Coral Cup. He only finished eighth there but he wasn’t beaten far and I think the return to 3m will suit him. He beat my horse narrowly over 3m at Fairyhouse in January but both horses have improved since, and Champagne Classic did it really well for us in the Martin Pipe. Okay, that win only came off a mark of 138 but some good horses have won that race down the years and he will appreciate the step back up to 3m. My horse is 16/1 in this race and that could underestimate his chances, albeit this is a good Grade 1 with plenty of depth, as I haven’t even mentioned Al Boum Photo either. The fact that my horse side-stepped Aintree and Fairyhouse for this is also in his favour.
He just wasn’t himself in the Gold Cup, and I hope we can just put a line through that performance and move on. He just didn’t jump or travel the way we know he can there, and things haven’t gone well for him on his three starts at Cheltenham. One reason for that disappointment could be that he doesn’t like to be rushed, and they went very quick over the first two fences in the Gold Cup, and that took him out of his comfort zone. But you can obviously give him a fair chance on his Lexus defeat of Don Poli and Djakadam in the Lexus and he has run well on all three of his starts at this course. This smaller field could suit him a lot better, and he is in great form at home. Gold Cup winner Sizing John and Djakadam are the obvious two to fear, but Champagne West is another horse who would have a big chance if you forgave him his Gold Cup disappointment and concentrated on his runaway Thyestes win off a mark of 154. And Coneygree is another Gold Cup winner, albeit one who probably would ideally want softer ground.
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