Ian Ogg picks out a couple of ante-post selections for Saturday's Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
By Ian Ogg
Last Updated: 08/11/11 3:06pm
Whether the race resides in your memory as the Mackeson, the Massey Ferguson, the Thomas Pink or the Paddy Power depending upon your vintage there's no escaping the growing anticipation for the season ahead that greets this most competitive of handicaps.
Gay Trip, Fifty Dollars More, Very Promising, Bradbury Star, Cyfor Malta, Fondmort, Exotic Dancer, Imperial Commander - just a few of those on the roll of honour which does not feature the name of Long Run, beaten into third behind Little Josh from a mark of 158 when sent off the 2-1 favourite.
Those that backed him, although not collecting on the day, were ultimately proved right in their judgement as the precocious French import went on to right a new chapter in the history books at, first, Kempton and then back at Prestbury Park.
There seems little chance of Mon Parrain being sent off at a similarly short price but there remains plenty of confidence in the five year old, not least from his handler, Paul Nicholls, who insists that he could just as easily have run him in the upcoming Betfair Chase at Haydock against Long Run.
The son of Trempolino is rated 152 and this superb jumper will be regarded in many quarters as a handicap snip but this is a race that has always eluded Nicholls.
That omission in his CV will surely be rectified at some stage and it's a race in which market leaders have fared well with very few surprise victors in recent years.
That has been down, in part, to a number of public gambles on horses from the Pond House Stables of formerly Martin Pipe and now David.
The latter has yet to win a race which his father farmed at the start of the last decade and Great Endeavour has a little work to do if he's to improve on last season's sixth when beaten 25 lengths.
One winner returned at double figure odds was Exotic Dancer who disappointed in the same Carlisle race as Divers ran badly in last month and it would be folly to rule Ferdy Murphy's grey out on the basis of that performance.
He had a couple of lengths in hand of Quantitativeeasing and Tullamore Dew when winning the Centenary Chase at the Festival and all three have to be on the long-list.
Quantitativeeasing looks well worth an interest at a top price of 20-1 for his return to action with Nicky Henderson's string showing signs of coming to hand.
The six year old hasn't really lived up to expectations but he gradually got things together in a campaign that brought him some valuable experience at a couple of the smaller tracks before his sights were raised.
He didn't get home in the Irish National but his stamina will be a huge asset over this trip in a race where you have to stay well in order to be successful.
Henderson has only won this race once but he's sent out Barber's Shop and Long Run to make the frame in the last three years and his son of Anshan has the right profile for the race.
I am also prepared to take a chance on Cape Tribulation who has his first start since February when chasing home a former stablemate of Quantitativeeasing.
Malcolm Jefferson has his string in good form at present and has always thought the world of his son of Hernando who was a decent staying hurdler a couple of seasons ago.
His jumping left a little to be desired at times in a truncated novice season but that has meant that there is some wriggle room with regards his handicap mark.
Once again, he is proven over further than this trip and he has the class to pick up a valuable handicap this season if his jumping holds up and appeals at a widely available 20-1.