IT’S wide open, this Coral Gold Cup. As things stand, you can back every horse in the race at 7/1 or better, and only six of them at better than 12/1.
The favourite’s armband has been worn by many since declarations were made on Thursday morning, and once by Busselton, the only Irish-trained contender. Joseph O’Brien’s horse is now out to as big as 9/1, but he is a genuine contender.
The stats are all against him. Total Recall is still the only Irish-trained winner (excepting Be My Royal) since Bright Highway in 1980, and five-year-olds just don’t win it. Never have. But not many try. Kitty’s Light was the only five-year-old in the race last year, and Djakadam was sent off as favourite for the race in 2014. That’s in in the last 10 years. They are the only five-year-olds who have run in the race in the last decade.
And Busselton is an unusual five-year-old, a battle-hardened five-year-old. He has run 12 times over fences, more times than the eight-year-old Fiddlerontheroof, and he has won a Kerry National.
He may not have beaten Hewick that day had Hewick not come down at the last, but he may have, and Hewick is a superstar, a Bet365 Gold Cup winner, a Galway Plate winner, an €850 purchase, a Grand National Hurdle Stakes (sic.) winner, a Gold Cup contender.
You can see Busselton running his race, and you can see Corach Rambler and Oscar Elite running well, although they may be better at Cheltenham than at Newbury, and you can see Gericault Roque stepping forward considerably from his seasonal debut over hurdles at Aintree last month.
But, at a bigger price, Gericault Roque’s stable companion Remastered, who finished 25 lengths in front of him in that hurdles race at Aintree, is a more attractive betting proposition.
David Pipe’s horse ran a big race in the last year’s Coral Gold Cup. Prominent from early that day, he moved up nicely on the outside as they raced around the home turn, and it appeared as if he was travelling better than the ultimate winner Cloudy Glen when he moved up alongside him at the fourth last fence. He traded at 2/1 in-running at that point, but he got the fence wrong and came down.
Of course, it is a long way from the fourth last fence to the winning line at Newbury, and Remastered didn’t finish off his race strongly when he finished second to Enqarde in the Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock next time. We will never know how he would have fared.
We do know that he goes into this year’s race in good form though, arguably in better form than last year. On his seasonal debut last year, his prep race for last year’s Coral Gold Cup, he finished third in a handicap hurdle at Aintree off a mark of 133.
This year, he won the same handicap hurdle at Aintree off a mark of 132. He won it easily too. He went to the front at the second last flight, and he always had matters under control from there, winning easily, eased down, by four lengths but with much more in hand than that.
He is now rated 139 over hurdles, 6lb higher than he was at this stage last year over hurdles.
But he gets to race off a chase mark of 142 today, 4lb lower than the mark off which he raced last year.
He could be a better horse this year, and he gets to race off a lower mark. He could be a really well-handicapped horse over fences now.
As well as that, he had a wind operation during the summer, this will be his second run back after it, and he looked like an improved performer on his first run back at Aintree.
All his best form is on soft ground, he has never run on good ground, but it was good to soft when he was running a big race last year, and the better ground could help him.
And David Noonan got a nice tune out of him at Aintree last time, just his second time to ride him.
Coral Racing Handicap Hurdle
Earlier in the day, Lord Baddesley could be the answer to a tricky-looking Coral Racing Club Handicap Hurdle. Chris Gordon’s horse finished fourth in the Betfair Hurdle last February, a race that continues to give.
The winner Global And Fortune finished fifth in the Champion Hurdle next time, the runner-up I Like To Move It won the Greatwood Hurdle two weeks ago, the third First Street finished second in the County Hurdle next time, and the sixth was Knappers Hill, who has won four of his last five, including the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle last time.
Lord Baddesley was a 66/1 shot that day, but he obviously out-ran his odds by a long way, and he has continued to progress this season so far. He ran a big race on his seasonal debut to finish second to Knappers Hill in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow, when he had to deliver his challenge away from the stands rail. As mentioned, Knappers Hill has since won the Elite Hurdle.
He stepped forward from that last time in running out an impressive winner of a handicap hurdle at Plumpton, beating a talented rival in Royaume Uni by nine and a half lengths.
A 9lb hike for that wasn’t ideal, but it was merited, and he continues on an upward trajectory.
He obviously goes well at Newbury, he won a novices’ hurdle there in March 2021 too, and he goes well on goodish ground. Also, Chris Gordon has his team in really good form, he has had five winners and four seconds from 21 runners in the last two weeks.
Lord Baddesley, 1.55 Newbury, 7/1 (generally), 1 point win
Remastered, 3.05 Newbury, 7/1 (generally), 1 point each-way