Gold Cup Form Guide 2014

The Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby is one of the key early season Gold Cup trials and we saw a good winner this season. It was Harry Topper who claimed the win for Kim Bailey after he showed good stamina to hold off a strong challenge from Wayward Prince. There was disappointment for Long Run and his connections with the former Gold Cup winner fading badly to finish a long way fifth. The horse made a bad mistake at one of the jumps and never recovered, leaving the way for Harry Topper to claim the win.

The Betfair Chase at Haydock was packed full of star names this season and we saw an excellent winner emerge from the race. Cue Card was popped out on front and after jumping with style he showed no stamina doubts to pull clear of one of the best fields in recent memory. Dynaste ran well in second place for David Pipe while last year's winner, Silviniaco Conti, ran respectably back in third place. The flop of the race was Bobs Worth who started as favourite for Nicky Henderson on his first start since winning the Gold Cup back in March. He looked one paced as he plugged on at Haydock and he is likely to run next in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham on trials day in January.

The Hennessy Gold Cup is the second biggest handicap race of the season behind the Grand National and can also be a nice race for potential gold cup horses. This season we saw a great performance from Triolo D'Alene for trainer Nicky Henderson. The horse was expected to go to the Grand National but this success may see him re-routed to the Gold Cup at the Festival. Rocky Creek ran a blinder back in second place at Newbury and looks to be a progressive second season chaser  for Paul Nicholls. Both Triolo D'Alene and Rocky Creek will need to find plenty of improvement to feature in a Gold Cup but both are open to that and could attract some each-way month.

The King George VI Chase on Boxing Day is always a key Gold cup trial race and we saw a very strong winner in the form of Silviniaco Conti. The Paul Nicholls trained in-mate fell in the Gold Cup last season but he proudced a career best in testing conditions at Kempton to go past Cue Card and win with something in hand. Cue Card had jumped and travelled out front with great enthusiasm but he ran out of petrol before the last and there has to be doubts about his Gold Cup chances now.

Over in Ireland it was the Lexus Chase that took centre stage with Bobs Worth bouncing back to his very best form to take a famous victory. The Nicky Henderson horse flopped in the Betfair Chase but he showed a great turn of foot on the run-in to wear down the game First Lieutenant. It looked like top quality form with Sir Des Champs back in fourth, although he should improve for the run next time and mustn't be ruled out.

The Argento Chase at Cheltenham is always a solid Gold Cup trial and while it was short of leading Festival contenders, there was an impressive winner. It was The Giant Bolster who stormed up the hill to pull clear of the strong staying Rocky Creek who now looks likely to be heading to Aintree. The Giant Bolster is a former runner-up in the Gold Cup and in the visor he once again saved his best for Prestbury Park. His Gold Cup price was slashed after the race and there is no doubt that The Giant Bolster is likely to offer some punters plenty of each-way appeal at double figured odds.

The Denman Chase was run in very testing conditions this season but we still saw an excellent performance from Harry Topper who claimed the big win. The Kim Bailey trained horse jumped well to pull well clear of Al Ferof who didn't seem to stay the three miles in such heavy ground. He will need to improve again to win a Gold Cup but he would not be without a chance, but only if the ground comes up soft at the Festival in March.

We saw a stunning performance in the Irish Hennessy this season from Last Instalment who now looks like being the main Irish challenger for the Gold Cup this season. The nine-year-old has returned from a long injury lay-off this season and has looked better than ever for trariner Philip Fenton. Brian O'Connell rode the horse aggressively from the front and the horse galloped his rivals into the ground with a brilliant round of jumping and travelling. He pulled well clear of the field which included Tidal Bay and First Lieutenant who was perhaps a little below his best. Last Instalment will need to improve to mix it with the likes of Bobs Worth but this was highly impressive and he now enters the ante-post picture.

The Ascot Chase was run in testing ground this season as Captain Chris hacked up to claim the Grade 1 race over two miles, five furlongs. The ten-year-old pulled well clear of the field to claim the win and re-ignite his Gold Cup chances at the same time. Last year we saw Captain Chris jump violently out to his right during the Gold Cup when finishing sixth which would be a worry again this season as he clearly prefers going right-handed, but on class he deserves to take his chance at the Festival.

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