PERHAPS organising a press call with Sam Thomas wasn’t the ideal way to promote today’s Coral Gold Cup (3.05) from Newbury’s point of view.
The jockey turned trainer spoke well to the press on Wednesday and you can see why he was chosen as the angle given his excellent results so far as a trainer and his rich history with this race, having rode Denman to the first of his two victories here in 2007, a 19-length romp off top-weight.
Thomas runs Our Power today but naturally lots of the focus was on his previous endevours in the race when it was univerally known as the Hennessy.Those were halcyon days for the three-mile-two-furlong contest but aside from the name, much has changed for the race since then.
A race that many National Hunt fans will have as their favourite has deteriorated badly and for all that today’s renewal is another excellent betting proposition, where is the potential Gold Cup contender coming from?
Of the 16 runners, only Threeunderthrufive competed in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham last season, and he was a well-held sixth there. The ‘Hennessy’ used to be the natural stepping stone for the best of last season’s novice chasers to test their mettle as Gold Cup candidates. You have to go back to Blaklion in 2016 as the last Brown Advisory (then RSA Chase) winner to have run at Newbury.
Many Clouds was the last to win at Newbury having competed in the previous season’s top grade three-mile novice chase. He completed a 10-year sequence where five of the previous 10 winners of the ‘Hennessy’ ran in the ‘RSA’ the previous season.
But there are easier options for second season chasers now, the Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase at Aintree for instance, and easier is better when it comes to getting back to the ever encompassing Festival.
The other thing to consider is the ground, which, it seems, is perilously out of anyone’s control. It’s going to be quick at Newbury today and unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week or indeed at this time of year for the last few seasons, you’ll have heard the concern trainers have.
Corach Rambler, joint favourite for the race yesterday evening, is an unlikely runner if his trainer Lucinda Russell does not deem the surface to be safe.
It is notable that six of the field come from the stables of David Pipe and Joe Tizzard. Their fathers have six wins in this race between them, while Pipe junior already has a victory to his name in Madison Du Berlais.
His Remastered could go off favourite today. He was going well when departing at the fourth last in this race last season and looks in better shape now than he was going into this race last season. He’ll be ridden by Cork native David Noonan, who will wear the colours of Brocade Racing, who won this race with Native River and the Tizzards in 2016.
Joe, in his first full season, has Fiddlerontheroof, last year’s runner-up for Colin, to go one better off a 5lb higher mark. Busselton, the Kerry National winner, will bid to be only the third Irish-trained winner since 1980 and the first ever five-year-old winner.
GORDON Elliott has sent out 34 winners in November but it’s likely none will mean more than a win in the Bar One Racing Troytown Chase (2.20) at Navan tomorrow.
As is his wont, the Meath native has a squad of runners for the three-mile contest but Frontal Assault looks like the clear best chance and Elliott agreed with that notion.
“This has been the plan for a good while,” he told The Irish Field yesterday. “He has a similar profile to Run Wild Fred, who we won the race with last season, and everything has gone well with him. Look, they’re going there with chances and we’re looking forward to running all of them.”
Earlier American Mike will continue his development as a novice hurdler in the Grade 3 John Lynch Carpets & Flooring Monksfield Novice Hurdle (1.20).
“He did it well enough at Down Royal and he’s only dropping down a furlong in trip which obviously be no problem.
“We’re looking forward to seeing him again,” said Elliott who is bidding to win the race for the seventh time in nine years.