Anybody who took Andy's How To Bet £20 advice on Thursday, with early prices taken, would have made a profit of £360.
The first place to look when trying to identify the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup winner is usually the second-season chasers and with this year’s collection being a formidable bunch I fancy they will rise to the fore in chasing’s blue riband on Friday.
Presenting Percy was the leader of the pack among the staying novices last term and to my eye is the most likely winner but a best price of 4-1 looks tight enough and his hold-up style means he will also be a hostage to fortune.
Presenting Percy was held up when he won the RSA Chase last year
Much has been made of the fact that he has not run over fences this term but I wouldn’t worry about that. He’s already shown himself to be an accomplished jumper and he’s had a couple of away-day schooling sessions to get his eye in.
The other second-season chasers in the line-up are, in alphabetical order, Al Boum Photo, Elegant Escape, Invitation Only, Kemboy and Shatttered Love.
All five merit attention but, at the prices, the most interesting pair for me are Shattered Love, who is 33-1 with Unibet and generally 25-1 elsewhere, and Al Boum Photo, who is 20-1 with William Hill. I’m going to split stakes on them and will also be having a saver on Presenting Percy to cover my bet.
Shattered Love became the first mare to win a novices’ chase for 23 years when running away with the JLT Chase last year.
Her other form last term is strong – she had Presenting Percy behind on one occasion – and she was a big eye-catcher when splitting Min and Balko Des Flos in the Punchestown Chase in December.
Shattered Love disappointed on fast ground at Leopardstown over Christmas but she returned with sore shins and has subsequently had a wind op.
She will have her ground on Friday, will be fresh and remains completely unexposed up in distance. The eight-year-old looks a galloper to me and, of course, she gets the 7lb weight allowance and is trained by the man who already has one Gold Cup winner on his CV and has prospects of being leading trainer at the Festival for the third year in succession.
Shattered Love was an impressive winner of the JLT
Her owners, Gigginstown, could have been represented by several runners – including Road To Respect, who was a fine fourth last year and touched off in the Irish Gold Cup last time - but rely solely on her. That is a tip in itself.
Al Boum Photo would probably have been third in last year’s RSA Chase, won by Presenting Percy, had he not fallen two out but he has thrived since.
He beat Shattered Love a length at Fairyhouse next time (Invitation Only back in third) and would have followed up in some style at the Punchestown Festival had his rider not inexplicably steered him off the track between the final two fences.
This term we have seen him only once but he could not have been more impressive in giving weight and a thumping beating to Total Recall and Invitation Only in the Savills Chase at Tramore.
The trip is a slight niggle and Ruby Walsh has chosen to ride Bellshill but that just means we get a bigger price.
Native River, who won last year after being third 12 months earlier, looks the most solid among the more estblished brigade.
History tells us, though, that he may well be vulnerable to those coming through the ranks.
How To Bet £20 on the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup:
Shattered Love £2 win and £3 each-way at 33-1 with Unibet
Al Boum Photo £2 win and £1.50 each-way at 20-1 with William Hill
Presenting Percy £4 win at a general 4-1
50p Combination Exacta on the trio (costing £3)