Jumps Season - At The Races

Bet365 Gold Cup

    Sandown, Saturday 29th April 2016.
  • Stats Guides

Last Year's Winner: The Young Master

The Young Master
Mr S Waley-Cohen (3)
N P Mulholland
10st 12lb
Starting Price:
10st 12lb
Season Form Figures:
Previous Best:
1st - Silver Cup Handicap Chase (Listed), Ascot (Dec 2014)

Over 26 years have now passed since the last outright favourite won, Mr Frisk back in 1990, though Beau was co-favourite of three when he slaughtered his field. Six 14/1+ winners in the last 13 years has made this a tough handicap to call right.

The Ultima Handicap Chase run on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival has been a good guide. Ignoring the abandoned Festival in 2001, as many as ten of the last 24 horses to pass the post first in the Bet365 Gold Cup, including two subsequently disqualified ‘winners’, ran in that staying handicap at the Festival, the latest being The Young Master last season who finished third at Cheltenham. In fact, 11 of the last 16 winners ran at any race at the Cheltenham Festival but beware winners at that meeting taking their chance here as the last 26 to try have all been beaten.

Tidal Bay put up a tremendous performance to win by 15 lengths five years ago off 11st 12lb, particularly as no winner had previously carried more than 11st 5lb since Life Of A Lord in 1996, indeed only two had even carried over 11st (Puntal and Lacdoudal). Furthermore, of the last 26 winners, 12 were saddled with no more than 10st 4lb.

As many as ten of the last 24 horses to pass the post first in the Bet365 Gold Cup, including two subsequently disqualified ‘winners’, ran in the Ultima Handicap Chase.

Grand National runners fare better here than they do in the Scottish National (three have won since 1996 though two unseated their rider so were spared the full race distance at Aintree) and, of course, Mr Frisk completed the double in 1990. However, given a choice, I would prefer the Scottish version as a guide to this handicap. Poker De Sivola may have only got as far as the eleventh fence up at Ayr on his previous start six years ago but he bounced back to win here, Hot Weld followed his Ayr success up here seven years ago and Ad Hoc went one place better than when second in the Scottish National in 2001.

Novices should also be respected. Hennessy was the most recent novice to win in 2009 preceded by Puntal who cut out virtually all the running to score for first-season chasers in 2004 following up Beau's record 44 lengths’ winning margin in 2000 and Bounce Back's clear-cut success two years later. Brown Windsor also struck for the novice division in 1989.

With Ferdy Murphy (won two of the last nine runnings) based in France, it is Philip Hobbs that has the best very recent record of home-based trainers having won with Lacdoudal and Monkerhostin and he has saddled four more placed runners since then but over a longer period of time he trails Paul Nicholls by two following successes for Tidal Bay and Just A Par in the last five years as the Champion Trainer had previously twice taken the prize home with Ad Hoc. Just A Par got within a short-head of recording back-to-back successes in this race last season just failing to emulate the likes of Larbawn and Topsham Bay. Diamond Edge and Ad Hoc were also dual winners but not in successive seasons.

The Irish endured a terrible run with over 30 years without a winner since Arkle in 1965 but three wins since 1996 courtesy of Life Of A Lord, Jack High and Church Island is a more than fair return given they are sparse with their raiders.

This isn’t quite the race as in years gone by so, as the quality of the race diminishes, this has opened it up more to give the older horses a better chance. For example, only Life Of A Lord won aged in double figures during an 11-year span between 1991 and 2004 but three of the last 11 winners were 11-year-olds.

At a glance summary

Carrying no more than 10st 4lbs
Beaten at the Cheltenham Festival (notably in the Ultima Handicap Chase)
Trained by Paul Nicholls or Philip Hobbs
Ran well in the Scottish National
Won at this season’s Cheltenham Festival
Carrying over 11st
The favourite
Ran a big race in the Grand National

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