|Wednesday, 4 November, 2020 – The 158-rated Aso heads the weights on 11st 12lb for the £130,000 G3 Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday, 14 November, details of which are revealed today. Some of Aso’s (Venetia Williams) best performances have come at the Home of Jump Racing, most memorably when second to Frodon in the 2019 G1 Ryanair Chase at The Festival™. |
Seven horses have carried top weight to victory in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, the latest being Al Ferof in 2012 for Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh. Nicholls’s seven entries this year include Paddy Power’s 6/1 joint-favourite Saint Sonnet (11st 1lb), who has not raced since finishing seventh behind Samcro in the G1 Marsh Novices’ Chase at The Festival™. A strong team for Nicholls also features yesterday’s G2 Haldon Gold Cup victor Greaneteen (11st 5lb ex 5lb penalty), recent Chepstow scorer Grand Sancy (11st 3lb) and last year’s runner-up Brelan d’As (10st 11lb).
Paddy Power’s other market leader Imperial Aura (Kim Bailey) will shoulder a minimum of 11st 11lb, following a comeback success in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Chase at Carlisle on 1 November. The prolific seven-year-old ran three times at Cheltenham last season and ended the campaign with victory in the Listed Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase at The Festival™.
Nigel Twiston-Davies is the most successful current trainer in the Paddy Power Gold Cup with four wins. The Gloucestershire handler’s three entries include second season chasers Al Dancer (11st 8lb) and Good Boy Bobby (11st), who have been in winning action this season at Newton Abbot and Bangor respectively.
Last year’s Paddy Power Gold Cup heroine Happy Diva (Kerry Lee) has been allotted 11st 5lb. Cyfor Malta (1998 & 2002) is the most recent dual winner of the race, though you have to go back to Bradbury Star in 1993 and 1994 for the latest back-to-back scorer.
Happy Diva almost recorded a famous double at Cheltenham last season when a gallant second to Simply The Betts (Harry Whittington, 11st 11lb) in the G3 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate at The Festival™. The nine-year-old mare returned this term with a fifth in a Listed handicap chase at Wetherby on 30 October. Trainer Kerry Lee said: “Happy Diva has come out of Wetherby in fine fettle.
“She will come on plenty for that run and the Paddy Power Gold Cup is once again the aim.We were delighted with Wetherby, as she showed every inch of her usual zest and enthusiasm for the game.She is a fantastic horse, and we are lucky to have her. She is so consistent and professional – she is just a pleasure to have in the yard. It was very special to see her win the Paddy Power Gold Cup and hopefully she can go close again. I only train around 20 horses and to be on the biggest stage in the biggest handicap pre-Christmas is very special.
“We are rubbing shoulders with the likes of Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson – what she has done for my career so far is phenomenal and hopefully we can create more memories at Cheltenham later this month.”
Other names to note include Mister Fisher (11st 9lb), one of four entries for Nicky Henderson, and G1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase victor Slate House (Colin Tizzard, 11st 6lb).
Paddy Power Gold Cup – Paddy Power prices: 6/1 Imperial Aura, Saint Sonnet; 7/1 Simply The Betts; 8/1 Greaneteen; 11/1 Cepage; 14/1 Al Dancer, Good Boy Bobby, Mister Fisher, Siruh du Lac; 16/1 bar
Paddy Power himself said: “We still can’t separate Saint Sonnet and Imperial Aura at the top of the market and the latter arguably put up the most impressive possible trial for the Paddy Power Gold Cup being imperious at Carlisle on Sunday.
“But while Saint Sonnet looks to have a lovely racing weight of 11st 1lb, Imperial Aura has to carry at least 11st 11lb which will be no easy task as only Taquin Du Seuil four years’ ago has defied such a burden in the last 10 runnings.”
The Paddy Power Gold Cup
Grade 3 handicap chase, £130,000 total prize fund. Cheltenham, Saturday, 14 November.
Two miles, four furlongs (2m 4f 44y). For four-year-olds and upwards. Penalties: after November 1, a winner of a chase 5lb. Entries closed October 27, entries revealed October 28 (37 entries). Weights revealed November 4. Five-day confirmation stage November 9, final declarations November 12. Maximum field size 20 runners plus 2 reserves.
Horse Age Wgt Rating Owner Trainer Aso (FR) 10 11-12 158 The Bellamy Partnership Venetia Williams
Simply The Betts (IRE) 7 11-11 157 Kate & Andrew Brooks Harry Whittington
Imperial Aura (IRE) 7 11-11 157 Imperial Racing Partnership 2016 Kim Bailey
Greaneteen (FR) 6 11-10 (5lb ex) 151 Chris Giles Paul Nicholls
Mister Fisher (IRE) 6 11-09 155 James and Jean Potter Nicky Henderson
Cepage (FR) 8 11-09 155 The Bellamy Partnership Venetia Williams
Al Dancer (FR) 7 11-08 154 Walters Plant Hire Ltd Nigel Twiston-Davies
Slate House (IRE) 8 11-06 152 Eric Jones, Geoff Nicholas, John Romans Colin Tizzard
Happy Diva (IRE) 9 11-05 151 Will Roseff Kerry Lee
Casablanca Mix (FR) 8 11-04 150 E R Hanbury Nicky Henderson
Siruh du Lac (FR) 7 11-04 150 John White & Anne Underhill David Pipe
Grand Sancy (FR) 6 11-03 149 Martin Broughton Racing Partners Paul Nicholls
Two For Gold (IRE) 7 11-02 148 May We Never Be Found Out Partnership Kim Bailey
Gold Present (IRE) 10 11-02 148 John & Barbara Cotton Nicky Henderson
Spiritofthegames (IRE) 8 11-02 148 N W Lake Dan Skelton
Midnight Shadow 7 11-02 148 Mrs Aafke Clarke Sue Smith
Master Tommytucker 9 11-01 147 A G Fear Paul Nicholls
Saint Sonnet (FR) 5 11-01 147 Colm Donlon Paul Nicholls
Southfield Stone 7 11-00 146 Angela Hart & Angela Yeoman Paul Nicholls
Good Boy Bobby (IRE) 7 11-00 146 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nigel Twiston-Davies
Domaine de L’Isle (FR) 7 11-00 146 12 Oaks Racing and Ian Hutchins Sean Curran
Precious Cargo (IRE) 7 10-13 145 T Barr Nicky Henderson
Vision des Flos (FR) 7 10-13 145 Ann & Alan Potts Limited Colin Tizzard
Espoir de Guye (FR) 6 10-12 144 Mrs J Hitchings Venetia Williams
Brelan d’As (FR) 9 10-11 143 John P McManus Paul Nicholls
Count Meribel 8 10-10 142 Charles C Walker Nigel Twiston-Davies
Kauto Riko (FR) 9 10-10 142 and Mrs JDale and Partners Tom Gretton
Fidux (FR) 7 10 10 142 AXOM LXVIII Alan King
Modus 10 10-09 141 John P McManus Paul Nicholls
Pinson du Rheu (FR) 9 10-09 141 S Bean Alexandra Dunn
Belami des Pictons (FR) 9 10-08 140 Hills of Ledbury Ltd Venetia Williams
The Russian Doyen (IRE) 7 10-06 138 The Gosden Mob Colin Tizzard
Coole Cody (IRE) 9 10-05 137 W Clifford Evan Williams
The Bay Birch (IRE) 9 10-04 136 Tony Scrivin Matt Sheppard
Sky Pirate 7 10-02 134 M Tedham Jonjo O’Neill
Court Master (IRE) 7 9-09 127 Mrs Lynne Maclennan Michael Scudamore
Vinnie The Hoddie (IRE) 6 9-09 127 Five Guys & A Striker Syndicate Oliver Sherwood