JOE's Betting Preview of the 2014 Gold Cup at Punchestown
Day Two at Punchestown sees the Gold Cup up for grabs at 17.30 this afternoon. Here’s our guide to the contenders for the big race.
In its present format the Punchestown Gold Cup may have a short history, but in that time it has been won by some of the very best chasers in the business. Florida Pearl, Beef Or Salmon, Kicking King, Neptune Collanges and Sir Des Champs have all taken the honours in this one, so the standard is sky high.
As the above list shows, having a good Cheltenham Gold Cup record is usually a sound guide to picking the Punchestown winner but with so many horses who have performed well, or even won, the English version lining up in this one the list of contenders is lengthy.
Perhaps we should start with On His Own. Just pipped, in dramatic fashion, by Lord Windemere at Prestbury Park, the Willie Mullins trained horse ticks some important boxes.
As well as the Cheltenham form, the horse is the favourite at 3/1 with BetPack and the favourite has won this race six time out of the last 10 runnings.
However, no 10-year-old has won it in the last decade and the very good ground may not favour Paul Townend’s mount either. For those reasons, we’ll give it a swerve.
That brings us to Mullins’ other runner, Boston Bob. The fact Ruby Walsh has chosen this mount has to be considered and at 3/1, he is probably a better punt than his stablemate.
Boston Bob fell in the Novice Chase at this meeting last year but won a hurdle race at this course on New Year’s Eve. A disappointing mid-table finish in the Ryanair last month would be a worry were it not for a fine win at Aintree, in the Melling Chase. That race, though, is only 2m 4f, compared to today’s 3m 1f test.
So if we take our lives in our hands and ignore the Mullins yard, where to look for a winner. How about a former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in Long Run (8/1)? The nine-year-old was second in this race last year but a few ropey performances since, including parting company with Sam Waley-Cohen in both the King George and the Grand National, has us worried.
Michael O’Leary’s First Lieutenant also takes his chance. Third in this race last year, the one-time Neptune winner has failed to cross the line first this season but we think that this race is ideally set up for him. Mouse Morris has trained the winner of this race twice since 2006 (War of Attrition and China Rock) and with the bonus of Barry Geraghty in the saddle, we’ll invest in him at 9/2.