Back Boondooma To Lead The Pack

There will be a number of punters licking their lips ahead of this weekend’s Cheltenham meeting, featuring one of the best early season handicaps of the jumps season, namely the Paddy Power Gold Cup (2.25pm).

Another Paddy For Pipe?
Won by a host of talented chasers down the years, including Martin Pipe’s Our Vic ten years ago. Son David also won this race in 2009 with Great Endeavour, and has another leading contender in Kings Palace (7/1).

This improving 7yo impressed in landing his first three novices last term (including here), prior to flopping in the RSA Chase last March. Having also fallen at the previous 2013 festival, it will be interesting to see if he handles the big occasion on Saturday.

Pipe also has the well-weighted, Monetaire (10/1), a close runner-up in last season’s Plate handicap over C&D at the festival, and is just 3lb higher. Having also finished third first time out at this meeting 12 months ago, he looks primed to go well.

Boon in Fine Tune

One who has proven their wellbeing this season is Dr Richard Newland’s Boondooma (8/1) who arrives here in winning form.

This front-running 8yo made it 2-4 over fences when taking a valuable handicap over 2m here last month, and having won at 2m5f over hurdles, he could have them all in trouble if allowed the lead on Saturday.

History also suggests that punters shouldn’t stray too far from the leading fancies in the market either…

Paddy Power Gold Cup Trends
Of the last 10 winners…
9 were 4-7yo’s
8 returned 10/1 or shorter
P Nicholls, Jonjo O’Neill and N Twiston-Davies won it two times each

Another in the right odds range is Irish Cavalier (10/1), who put himself forward as a candidate for this when winning the valuable novices’ handicap over C&D at the festival in March. He showed his wellbeing with a triumphant warm up in a decent chase last month and could represent value from the Rebecca Curtis yard.

Nicholls Dual-Handed
But what of Paul Nicholls, who made a habit of landing the big Saturday races last season? Well, the champion trainer has an interesting 5yo in Art Mauresque (12/1), who was beaten 3l by Irish Cavalier last month, prior to winning a novice over 2m4f here several weeks ago.

Nicholls pitches him in against more experienced rivals here, while he also has the top-weight, Sound Investment (16/1), who is up 4lb having won the Old Roan Chase at Aintree last month (Johns Spirit was badly hampered). He is respected, but will need to improve against some unexposed sorts with lighter weights.

Elsewhere, the lone Irish representative is Charles Byrnes’ Shanpallas (20/1), who was sixth in this last year and returns from a 2lb lower mark.

Recommended Bets
Plenty to choose from, and things could get rough, but Boondooma could steer clear of any trouble if getting the lead, and may not come back to the pack.

*Prices correct at time of publication