The Bet365 Gold Cup, formerly the Whitbread Gold Cup, officially brings down the curtain on the National Hunt season and this year also on the riding career of AP McCoy (3.50pm Sandown). Run over a testing 3m5½f at Sandown, often on unseasonably fast ground, the race typically presents a devilishly difficult puzzle for punters to solve.
No favourite has won the Bet365 Gold Cup in the last 10 years, but that dubious distinction goes to Le Reve (8/1), who’s already won twice over 3m½f at Sandown this season. Lucy Wadham’s seven-year-old is 8lb better off for the six lengths he was beaten by Rocky Creek (16/1) in the Betbright Chase at Kempton in February, so has a realistic chance of reversing the form. He has his stamina to prove over an extra five furlongs, off a career-high mark after two months off but comes into the race a relatively fresh horse, so it would be foolish to write him off.
The Package (11/1), trained by David Pipe (pictured), was quite impressive when winning the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase over 3m2f at the Cheltenham Festival last month, but he was winning for the first time since November 2012 and may not be one to trust implicitly. Certainly, he is unlikely to be improving at the age of 12 and a 10lb rise in the weights for his Cheltenham success makes life much more difficult this time. He actually races off the same handicap mark as when fifth beaten 18½ lengths in this race as a seven-year-old and is unlikely to fare any better this time.
Tony McCoy has, understandably, declined the ride on Lost Legend (28/1), who carries the featherweight of 10st 4lb, but that doesn’t mean that Jonjo O’Neill’s eight-year-old is not without a chance. The Winged Love gelding is only 2lb higher in the weights than when winning over 2m4½f at Kempton in January and has plenty of winning form on top of the ground. He is yet to win beyond 2m7f under rules, but the way he stayed on when sixth, beaten 15½ lengths, behind The Druids Nephew over 3m1f at the Cheltenham Festival last month suggested a step up in distance might be in his favour. In McCoy’s absence, he has a perfectly able deputy in Richie McLernon and he looks massively overpriced.
Guess Again (18/1) was still travelling strongly behind the leaders in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase (won by The Package) when falling at the fifth last and meets the winner on 10lb better terms. He, too, has yet to win beyond 3m1½f but has winning form on the prevailing good ground and his shrewd trainer is presumably not sending him back across the Irish Sea for the benefit of the Esher air.
- No Tony McCoy, but a fascinating contest all the same. On reflection, it’s difficult to get away from LOST LEGEND who is an each-way standout bet at best odds of 28/1 with Betfair Sportsbook, who are paying the first five places.