Paddy Power Column: Irish have genuine Gold Cup chance

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I admit I didn’t read Philip Fenton’s horses too well last Sunday as although The Tullow Tank ran a very creditable race in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle, he still found Vautour three lengths too powerful, while I didn’t think the Carrick-On-Suir conjuror’s Last Instalment would win the Hennessy as his master maintained that he’d improve for another run.

But while our pockets are not lined in the manner that I had hoped, the one good thing to come out of the weekend is the Irish now have a genuine Cheltenham Gold Cup contender which I didn’t think we would have after Bobs Worth won the Lexus against what then looked like our main hopes.

What I particularly liked about Last Instalment’s win was the manner of his jumping and apart from a slight mistake at the third, he was foot perfect and more like an aeroplane than a thoroughbred racehorse.

He really did power away from them after the second last and to win a Hennessy by eight and a half lengths is no mean feat. Let’s not forget Bobs Worth beat First Lieutenant by a length and a half in the Lexus, while Last Instalment was nine lengths ahead of that rival on Sunday.

The great news is that fragile Last Instalment was reported “absolutely perfect” by Fenton at time of writing and at a current 8-1, I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him for the Blue Riband (non runner money back on the Gold Cup) and I can assure you we’ll definitely be paying out with a smile on our faces.

I don’t think we’ll get rich backing Un De Sceaux in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park this Saturday but it will be an intriguing contest that should tell us more about the six-year-old’s Champion Hurdle pretensions.

If you are a big fan of this horse, I’d recommend you take the current 12-1 for Cheltenham now (again non runner money back) as if he dots up again at Gowran, he will inevitably shorten in price.

The selection didn’t appear to beat much in his last two wins at Thurles and Navan, a view backed by the official handicapper who has left him on the same rating throughout, but, boy, was he visually impressive at the latter track last time as he turned the race into a procession.

Returning to Philip Fenton’s string, I’m hoping that he runs one of his lesser lights, Drive On Locky, in the 2m 6f handicap hurdle at Thurles on Thursday.

This fellow certainly deserves a victory having been placed on his last three starts and he didn’t do a lot wrong last time at Fairyhouse when a beaten favourite last month, strongly pressing winner Rightville Boy from two out and just getting held at the end.

That was over a couple of furlongs less and I think with the extra distance he probably would have won that day and the trip will be absolutely perfect at Thurles.

Turning to the footy I expect a far improved display from Arsenal against Liverpool, who conducted a 5-1 demolition job on them last Saturday after 20 incredible minutes finished the game, but I don’t think they’ll beat them so am opting for the draw at a current 12-5.

If the Gunners do hope to get a win or even a draw, they’ll be expecting a much better effort from £42m signing Mesut Ozil who was completely ineffective at Anfield and forced Arsene Wenger to withdraw him from the heat of battle in the 61st minute.

Amazingly Luis Suarez was not among the goals and Arsenal will just be grateful that this tie is being played at the Emirates rather than a Merseyside return.


Thursday 3.55pm Thurles Drive On Locky; Saturday 3pm Gowran Park Un De Sceaux; Sunday 4pm Arsenal to draw with Liverpool




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