By Andy Stephens
Harbour Pilot and Road To Riches have gone close to giving Noel Meade victory in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup but the trainer believes his candidate this year, Road To Respect, is superior to them.
“He has more pace than Road To Riches, while Harbour Pilot was very good but inclined to miss a fence or two," Meade told Nick Luck on his weekly Racing UK show Luck On Sunday. "This fellow has a bit more to him than the other two, or you would like to think he has.Meade is delighted with his Gold Cup hope Road To Respect (PA)
“He’s not a difficult horse to train - he’s very clean winded. He’s in tremendous form and we’ve hit every button that we’ve wanted to hit on the the way. Touch wood, everything has gone right.”
Road To Respect was a fluent handicap winner at The Festival last year over 2m5f and has continued to progress since, winning the Leopardstown Christmas Chase in a first-time hood on his latest start.
However, his ability to stay the Gold Cup distance of an extended 3m2f remains an unknown.
"He stayed three miles well at Leopardstown in what was a good gallop," he said. "I know the last two and a half furlongs of the Gold Cup a lot of things change and some horses don't actually stay," Meade told Racing UK.
"I think it would be very foolish of me to say I think he's cast iron to stay. I'm very hopeful he will, but I wouldn't say any more than that."
Regarding the snow and rain that has hit the track in the build-up, he added: "I wouldn't worry about the weather with him as long as it didn't get heavy," he said.
"If it was heavy then I think it would become a big slog. I think reasonable soft ground would be OK."
Of the opposition, he singled out Might Bite, the favourite, as perhaps the biggest threat.
"I think it's a very open Gold Cup. Nicky's (Henderson) horse (Might Bite) has been exceptional what he's done," he said. "The rest of them – there are seven or eight horses there and it wouldn't surprise anybody if any of them won.
"I just hope my horse keeps improving the way he seems to have been. He's not a very difficult horse to train."
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