What a thrilling, pulsating race. I backed Vautour EW and had a place bet on him when someone persisted on going a tad over evens a place on Betfair. What about the figures ?. The race was run over 7 seconds faster than the earlier novice race and yet the sectional from the 2nd last was 0.7 seconds slower in the KG. This suggests, along with my visual impression, that they went a bit too quick early on in the KG. Vautour in particular would have benefited from sitting off the pace and I was surprised to see Ruby Walsh get involved pretty much from the outset. As I predicted Don Cossack, wonderfully game horse that he is, struggled to hold on to them, although the fast early pace meant that he was coming back at them before falling.

What does this all mean for the Gold Cup ?. The extra 2f and the track make the Gold Cup a very different proposition and visually many people will say Vautour has little chance over that extra 2f. I am not so sure of this. He is likely to get better ground in March which will suit from a stamina perspective. Connections will also surely realize that they cannot track the leader for half the race and then press on in the Gold Cup. I would hope they will prepare him to settle off the pace and then use that natural cruising speed to come into contention much later in the race. He is currently 16/1 and if I knew for certain he was going there then I would suggest a bet but as I write they are leaning towards the race but not yet committed. Cue Card will also benefit from drier ground and has a real chance even over the extra 2f.

So what of Don Cossack ?. I love his consistency but if the ground is dry in March he will handle it but will he have the pace ?. I still feel from looking at the figures that he will struggle when the pace increases. I know McCoy thinks he handles dry ground better but this may be negated by the fact that drier ground up’s the average pace of the race.

Do you have any Gold Cup thoughts ?