BOBS WORTH and Barry Geraghty will take all the beating in the Gold Cup today.
They won the race last year and Nicky Henderson’s horse is the only one in the line-up who is guaranteed to get the three-and-a-quarter-mile trip.
You need a horse that stays and can gallop up the punishing final hill to the winning post. Until you ride there, you don’t realise how steep it is.
It takes a lot out of horses and this will be the place where the race is won and lost. It always is. I don’t think Silviniaco Conti can win a Gold Cup, even though his rider Noel Fehily is confident and a brilliant horseman.
If there is going to be a surprise, it could be The Giant Bolster. Second two years ago, he returned to his old form when winning the Argento Chase at the end of January and he does have an each-way chance for Tommy Scudamore. My worry would be whether he has the class to get up that final hill at the end of a fast-run race on good ground.
It is clear conditions are drying out all the time and that is why I think John Quinn’s Pearl Castle can win the opening JCB Triumph Hurdle for Brian Hughes, one of my best friends.
Third at Wetherby at Christmas, he has won both of his last two starts at Doncaster and this will be the best ground that he has encountered. Brian also fancies him, but I can also see John Quinn’s other runner, Rutherglen, running well. He’s a tough horse and unbeaten over hurdles.
Let me just say a word about Brian Hughes who is still buzzing after winning his first race at the Festival on Wednesday with Tim Easterby’s Hawk High.
He’s a confident sort of person. When I had my fall at Perth last summer, he and James Reveley were the two lads who came to the hospital and were with me the night that I was not expected to live.
He was unbelievable to me, even telling the doctors and nurses not to give up hope. He’s that kind of person. He actually saw one of the nurses afterwards who said that she had witnessed two miracles in her life – and I was one of them.
Talking of confidence, I can’t look past Briar Hill in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.
The winner of last season’s Champion Bumper, he is unbeaten over hurdles this season. Willie’s not a man who talks up his horses, but he’s been sounding very confident about this one. He’s been talking of Briar Hill in similar terms to Vautour, who could not have been more impressive when winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Tuesday. At bigger odds, I could see Malcolm Jefferson’s Urban Hymn running well each-way.
1.30: Pearl Castle
2.40: Briar Hill
3.20: Bobs Worth
4.00: Made In Time
4.40: Full Shift
5.15: Lucky Landing
Brian Toomey is backing Jack Berry House, the Injured Jockeys Fund Centre being built in Malton. Donations can be made via the injuredjockeys.co.uk website.