The Paddy Power Gold Cup, run over 2 miles 4 furlongs at Cheltenham, is an early-season highlight for National Hunt fans (2.30pm, Saturday, Cheltenham).
This year’s renewal has once again attracted last year’s winner, Johns Spirit, plus a bevy of potentially top-class chasers.
Trained by Jonjo O’Neill (pictured), Johns Spirit (11/1) is 17lb higher in the weights than when beating Colour Squadron by three-quarters of a length last year. He proved his well-being with a smooth success over half a furlong shorter on this course four weeks ago and still appears feasibly weighted on that performance. He has won on soft going in the past, so should not be unduly inconvenienced by any deterioration in the ground and must have a decent chance of completing a notable double for connections.
However, Johns Spirit faces several notably progressive rivals in the form of Present View, Buywise and Oscar Whisky.
Present View (6/1) is still only a six-year-old, but that age group has produced three of the last ten Paddy Power Gold Cup winners, including Johns Spirit. The Presenting gelding has won three of his five starts over fences, including the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase over course and distance at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, and still looks fairly treated off a 7lb higher mark.
Present View is entitled, once again, to beat Buywise, who finished fifth beaten seven lengths in that race and, while he is 1lb worse off for three-quarters of a length with the runner-up, Attaglance, he appears much more progressive than Malcolm Jefferson’s gelding. Soft ground holds no terrors for him either and, after a pleasing reappearance over hurdles last month, must be high on any shortlist.
Buywise (7/1) has won five of his six starts over the larger obstacles but, while he clearly has plenty of ability, his jumping leaves plenty to be desired. A couple of jolting blunders put paid to his chances in the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase. He cannot be recommended as a betting proposition, at least not until we can determine, with any degree of confidence, that his jumping problems are in the past. Of course, that doesn’t mean that he can’t win, be he’s definitely not one for the faint-hearted.
Oscar Whisky (10/1) is another who is yet to entirely convince with his jumping over fences and that limitation may prevent him becoming as good a steeplechaser as he was a hurdler. A slightly dubious form line involving Manyriverstocross suggests he doesn’t have much to find with Present View but, coming back from an absence of 226 days in a race as competitive as this, he’s probably best watched.
Paddy Power Gold Cup Betting Tips Verdict
Johns Spirit may lack the potential star-quality of some of his rivals but, nevertheless, already has three course wins to his name and has fully deserved his climb up the weights since winning this race last year.
He could still have plenty more to offer at the age of seven, so our betting tips advice is to back Johns Spirit to win the Paddy Power Gold Cup at best odds of 11/1 with Bet365, SkyBet, Betfair Sportsbook or sponsors Paddy Power, all of which are 1/4 odds for the first five places.