WE might have seen a very good horse in Al Ferof win last Saturday’s Paddy Power Gold Cup with a big weight of 11st 8lb from gallant runner-up Walkon.
In the build up to my favourite race, it was amazing how many horses were performing like aeroplanes at home! First Hunt Ball was flying on the gallops followed by Grands Crus and later in the week Al Ferof and Walkon.
While the first two were both pulled up saving us from a monstrous result if favourite Grands Crus had prevailed, many punters managed to get a result as the winner was well backed at 8-1 and our money back special on all horses that were second to Ruby Walsh at the Paddy Power Meeting meant lots of others got their hard-earned refunded on the 7-1 runner-up.
Time will tell just how solid the form is this year but it was a fine weight carrying performance by the winner and owner John Hales is now keen to run him in the King George VI Chase at Kempton at Christmas for which he was cut to 7-1 from 16-1.
This week I’m looking forward to seeing Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Hidden Cyclone run in the Carlow I.T. Students Day Chase at Gowran Park on Saturday and his canny trainer Shark Hanlon cannot see him getting beaten. He made a winning reappearance at Naas last month over an inadequate two miles and this step up half a mile can only assist, although in time his handler thinks that he will want three miles.
Last season the selection came up against one of the favourites for this season’s Gold Cup, Sir Des Champs, at Leopardstown in January and was only beaten a length and a quarter despite Shark being adamant that his horse wasn’t right that day.
The Carlow trainer told me on Monday: “He’s in super form and I am really looking forward to the weekend. I think that he’s up to improving a lot on the last day.
“I really do think that he is a genuine Gold Cup candidate although he has got to get his jumping right. If he wins at Christmas then it will be full steam ahead to Cheltenham and it will take a good one to beat us at Gowran.”
Another of ‘The Shark’s’ horses that caught my eye recently was Rudigreen, who was just touched off by half a length by Yachvili at Downpatrick earlier in the month and has a reasonable chance of gaining some compensation in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle at Thurles on Thursday.
The ground is likely to be quite soft but that didn’t stop him going through it at Downpatrick and the extended 2m 6f seems just about perfect.
Shark added: “He ran a cracking race the last day but just hit the front too soon and hopefully we’ll get our money back. He’s in nice form and I think that he won’t be far away.”
Turning to the footy if Chelsea versus Manchester City doesn’t wet the appetite, then you’re probably not a great lover of the game, and I think City are a knocking good bet to win at 15-8.
Chelsea are suffering their usual November blues and an away defeat at West Brom on Saturday was not what the doctor or manager Roberto Di Matteo ordered. The Italian took nearly an hour to address the press after a reportedly stormy dressing room inquest and he said that Chelsea’s ‘defending was very poor today’. That simply won’t be good enough against a rampant City side who slotted five away against Aston Villa after an albeit indifferent beginning to the game. This was Premiership winning form.
Thursday Thurles 3.05pm Rudigreen
Saturday Gowran Park 2.35pm Hidden Cyclone
Sunday Stamford Bridge 4pm Manchester City to beat Chelsea