Instalment can be there at the Last to beat Bob’s Worth
“Matthew Glazier is a betting industry expert, having worked for operators such as bet365, Betfair and Sporting Index. He is an expert on the Cheltenham Festival, having attending every meeting since 2003.”
It is 16/1 bar the first three in the latest Gold Cup betting following the news that Cue Card will miss the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, just days after trainer Colin Tizzard declared the horse for the blue riband race of the meeting rather than the Ryanair.
Cue Card was the winner of the Betfair Chase back in November before an impressive run in the King George, although the consensus was that the eight-year-old may have struggled to get the trip in this race, especially if the ground was soft.
While Cue Card started rowing at Kempton on Boxing Day, Silviniaco Conti was there to pick up the pieces, thus proving what a tremendous stamina horse Paul Nicholls has in his stables.
Conti looked to be running a decent race in the 2013 Gold Cup before falling towards the end of the contest, although some might argue that Ruby Walsh was already struggling to squeeze enough juice from his charge as they approached the formidable hill.
Nevertheless, there was everything to like about the King George triumph which franked the form of the Betfair Chase, although it was the horse’s first win of the season and came on heavy ground during a particularly wet spell during the festive period.
Jockey Ruby Walsh feels as though the race is a straight shoot-out between the front two in the betting, although he doesn’t give either horse the edge ahead of the three mile two furlong showdown.
“If I’m being very honest, I think it’s a match – Bobs Worth versus Silviniaco Conti, take your pick,” declared Walsh. “Bobs Worth is guaranteed to get the trip, Conti was tough in the King George and he came back to beat Cue Card, so I think, all things being equal, they’ll be the two heading to the last this year.”
Bob’s Worth is the rightful favourite to retain his Gold Cup crown, having seen off his rivals twelve months ago with a fantastic run and the horse appeared to be somewhere near his best form at Leopardstown when winning the Lexus Chase.
The nine-year-old ran a stinker in the Betfair Chase although there were mitigating circumstances behind this poor performance and Henderson feels that his horse will take all the beating again.
Following the news that Cue Card will not run, Bob’s Worth has been trimmed into 7/4 on the outright market although his trainer has declared the race as an “open” one, citing Last Instalment as a danger in addition to Silviniaco Conti.
“The Gold Cup is very open. By and large it’s the same faces, although the horse who won the other day (Last Instalment) is interesting and beat First Lieutenant by further than we did.
“Silviniaco Conti is the obvious horse. He would have been close if he hadn’t fallen last year. With the Irish, I think we know where we are with them. Yes, Silviniaco Conti beat us at Haydock, but we’re better than that.
“You know if he’s in contention as they run to the second-last, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll finish his race off.”
Indeed, Last Instalment is as short as 5/1 with Coral to win the Gold Cup and the bookie clearly rate his chances considering he’s a best price 7/1 with BetVictor who offer Non-Runner No Bet for this championship race.
The nine-year-old had been away from the track for nearly two years before finishing third in a Grade 2 race at Thurles in January, although the Philip Fenton horse produced the goods at Leopardstown a month later when winning the Irish Hennessy Gold Cup in convincing fashion.
It was a run with plenty of wow factor, with the horse leading from the front and kicking well clear of horses such as Tidal Bay and First Lieutenant. As Henderson suggests, the winning distance of nine lengths over the latter might give Bob’s Worth trainer something to think about.
Fenton has recently been charged with possessing anabolic steroids and other banned substances, with the next court hearing scheduled for just after the Festival, although owner Michael O’Leary confirmed his horse will line up in the race providing the ground isn’t too quick.
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“Last Instalment will run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, providing the ground is not good or faster,” O’Leary said. “He has glass legs and we wouldn’t risk him on fast ground.
“The timing of this whole episode is very unfortunate, coming so close to Cheltenham. It’s tough for Philip but we feel duty-bound to support him. Whatever substances have been found that is for Philip to deal with but there is no reason for us to doubt his innocence.”
What of the other Gold Cup contenders? We usually see a big-price horse in the frame for this race and Captain Chris is certainly capable of running a big race, with the ten-year-old not doing himself any justice in the race twelve months ago when finishing sixth.
The last two performances have been more encouraging for trainer Philip Hobbs, winning at Kempton in January and the Ascot Chase a month later, with a nineteen-length victory certainly cementing his credentials for the big race.
First Lieutenant has a lot of improvement to find if he’s to trouble the leading Gold Cup protagonists, although The Giant Bolster ran fourth to Bob’s Worth in last year’s renewal, having previously finished second behind Synchronised at massive odds of 50/1.
Victory in the Argento Chase means that Coral go as short as 14/1 about the nine-year-old, although bet365 are prepared to quote 22/1 about a horse that would prefer the ground to have plenty of cut in it.
RECOMMENDATION: Last Instalment @ 7/1 e/w with BetVictor