It’s to Paddy Power today for the latest of our Cheltenham specials in the build up to Festival week, and its market on which horse will go off as the starting price favourite for Friday’s Gold Cup.
In a three-way market they price Cue Card as 11/10, Native River as 3/1, and any other horse, basically Djakadam and at a push Sizing John, as 6/4.
Cue Card carries a lot of sentimental support, but at the same time he carries them on ageing legs. While there will be plenty of off-course fivers and tenners for him, it’s hard to believe the more hardened and bigger hitting punters, or the racing press and tipsters, will pick a horse, at age 11, seeking to buck a 48 year age trend in the race.
Djakadam has potential to go off favourite and this would be heightened by a good meeting for trainer Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, which could have the bookies running for cover.
Native River arrives on a roll and has all the hallmarks of a Gold Cup winner. Even on a drying surface it is easy to see both tipsters and punters alike trusting his free-wheeling, front-running style and proven reserves of stamina. Don Cossack comfortably topped Cue Card and Djakadam for favouritism last year, and 3/1 looks value for Native River to follow suit, with a Friday rain forecast only adding to the allure.
Recommendation: Who will go off SP favourite in the Cheltenham Gold Cup? Native River 3/1, Paddy Power
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Click here for the Daniel Watkins Cheltenham Guide 2017