As a jockey in 2007 Thomas steered the great Denman to the first of two victories in the iconic chase, when it was known as the Hennessy Gold Cup. Carrying top weight of 11st 12lb, Denman beat Dream Alliance, to whom he was conceding 19lb, by 11 lengths.
Now in his eighth season as a trainer, Thomas has a chance to emulate Denman’s trainer Paul Nicholls by both riding and training the winner of the race. Nicholls, who has won the race three times as a trainer, won it twice as a jockey in 1986 and 1987.
Our Power, owned by Walters Plant Hire and Potter Group who will be ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, is one of 16 declared runners for the 3m2f handicap chase, of which the Dan Skelton-trained Le Milos is the sponsor’s new 6-1 favourite.
Thomas, who is based in Lisvane, near Cardiff, said: “We are treating this as another race, but it does come with a bit more pressure and it’s a race of huge significance.
“The Coral Gold Cup, the old Hennessy, has been around for many years and has a lot of history to go with it. Some incredible horses have won it over the years so it’s great to be in the race with a horse with an each-way chance.”
Thomas’s four wins on Denman included the defeat of stablemate and arch rival, Kauto Star in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup. He continued: “It was an incredible period in my career to be able to look forward to the weekends and to be riding those incredible horses. At that stage we didn’t know quite how good Denman was. To be a part of history when he was demolishing those big fields was very special. I have very fond memories of it all.”
The seven-year-old Our Power won twice last season and finished fifth in the Ultima Handicap Chase in March in which three of Saturday’s rivals Corach Rambler, the winner, Gericault Roque and Oscar Elite were in front of him. He won on his seasonal comeback, taking the Grade 3 London Gold Cup at Ascot by two lengths. “He showed us there that he is able to handle a decent sized field in a competitive race,” said Thomas. “It was a pretty challenging race in terms of where the three-mile start is at Ascot. It’s a bit of a cavalry charge down the hill and I was a bit nervous about that. It wasn’t actually my first option to go to Ascot because of that. But he showed he could cope with lots of runners and big fences.
“He is pretty unflappable. He is off the Flat and is not too keen, he looks after himself and travels within himself. If we can survive the back straight first time at Newbury and get into a nice position, I’d be really happy.
“He was only beaten ten lengths at Cheltenham in March so he wasn’t stopping but if you watch the race he was pretty much six wide on every bend, not through anyone’s fault. It’s just the way it panned out. He went a lot further than the rest of the field and still powered on to the line.
“There is no question about him staying. I have no doubts whatsoever that he will stay further than three and a quarter miles to be honest. My only concern would be the ground if it went really soft, but I don’t think it will go as bad as that.”
Conditions are not expected to soften significantly with Newbury clerk of the course Keith Ottesen calling the going as good on Thursday. “We’ve got good ground,” he said. “We will finish off a bit of watering today. There will be some rain this afternoon, between 3pm and 5pm. From then on it will start to dry but I expect it to still be good ground on Friday.
“We have got a plan to put a little bit of water on the home straight if we need to after racing on Friday. It is due to be dry tomorrow and dry on Saturday, but it could rain towards the end of racing.”
Coral spokesman David Stevens said: “Corach Rambler and Remastered had been vying for favouritism since Monday’s entry stage, and even following the final declarations for the race we couldn’t predict with certainty which runner will be sent off favourite for the first running of this famous old contest under the Coral name, with the recent Bangor winner Le Milos now at the head of the betting.”
Coral Gold Cup betting (Coral): 6 Le Milos, 7 Threeunderthrufive, Corach Rambler, 15-2 Remastered, 8 Busselton, Gericault Roque, Oscar Elite, 10 Fiddlerontheroof, Our Power, 12 Lord Accord, 16 Annsam, 25 Lostintranslation, 33 Bar.Black Friday offer! Join Racing TV for just £10 per month for the next 12 months! Click here for more details.
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