The Bet365 Gold Cup may be the last major handicap of the National Hunt season but, with no winning favourite since 2000, is no easier to solve than any of the others from a punter’s point of view (3.50pm, Sandown, Saturday). However we are confident we have found a good each-way bet at double digit odds.
At the time of writing, the dubious honour of favouritism goes to Same Difference (9/1), who comes into the race on the back of a never threatening fifth, beaten 30 lengths, in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. He’s 4lb lower in the weights than at Cheltenham and, in fact, 7lb lower than when second, beaten 2 lengths, in this race last year, so has an obvious chance from a handicapping perspective. He shouldn’t be inconvenienced by any rain, but the fact remains that he has yet to win beyond 3 miles 1½ furlongs and may be outstayed up the famous Sandown hill for the second year running.
Godsmejudge (12/1) has no such stamina doubts, having won the Scottish Grand National, over an extended 4 miles at Ayr this time last year and finished a close second, off a 6lb higher mark, in the same race two weeks ago. We tipped him then at 16/1 and got a good profit on our each-way bet. He was pulled up on his previous two starts but he now appears fully recovered from whatever was ailing him earlier in the season. His attacking style is well suited to Sandown and he can lead the field a merry dance.
Venetia Williams (pictured) sets punters a puzzle by saddling four runners, but Houblon Des Obeaux (20/1) appears to be the stable’s first string on jockey bookings and the ante-post market. The Panoramic gelding has been keeping Grade 1 company of late, finishing ninth of thirteen in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and last of six in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree, but his form in handicaps earlier in the season would give him a squeak.
He’ll need to jump much better than he did when third, beaten 3¼ lengths, behind Restless Harry over 3 miles at Ascot in February, but is 5lb better off with the winner this time around and, based on his staying on sixth in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November, should stay the extra three furlongs.
Paul Nicholls has won the Bet365 Gold Cup four times, most recently with Tidal Bay in 2012, so his runners are always worth a second look. This year, he relies on Bury Parade (14/1) and Poungach (20/1), with the former appearing to be the stable pick on his second to Bally Legend (25/1) in the Betbright Chase at Kempton in February. Bury Parade is 2lb better off with Bally Legend and, with the extra five furlongs on a testing track likely to play to his strengths, can reasonably expected to reverse the form.
This year’s Bet365 Gold Cup is as wide open as ever but, following a welcome return to form at Ayr last time when we were on him at 16/1, our betting tips advice is to back GODSMEJUDGE each-way at the best price available of 12/1 with BetVictor or Boylesports. He jumps, he stays and he still looks well handicapped so we are not deserting him.