‘Percy’ has potential but time to go ‘Native’ again

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‘Percy’ has potential but time to go ‘Native’ again

Tizzard charge can put his experience to good use and claim Gold Cup double

When Gordon Elliott won the Grand National with Silver Birch in 2007, he was the youngest trainer to win, aged 29, and he’d yet to even train a winner in Ireland at that stage.

Many sports writers and journalists had to look him up to find out who he was, and while very few punters had backed Silver Birch at 33/1, the narrative (albeit afterwards) became that of David and Goliath.

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It was the small-time Irish man putting it up to the biggest training operations in the business, and beating them.

Elliott is one of the big boys now, but Shattered Love is an outsider for today’s Gold Cup (3.30), although unlike Willie Mullins, he’s already saddled a winner.

There’s a bit of the David and Goliath theme in this year’s Gold Cup with Pat Kelly’s Presenting Percy, the small media-shy yard from the west of Ireland with owner Philip Reynolds, who came across the horse of a lifetime.

Rivalry

As a top race should, the Gold Cup has some great themes behind it this year: the Irish-English rivalry, the big trainers against the small, and a previous winner seeking glory once again.

Apart from the fact that’s he’s a hugely promising sort, there are a few stats in Presenting Percy’s favour.

Seven of the last eight Gold Cup winners had won their previous race, and he looked in great shape when taking the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran in January, his first appearance since winning the RSA Chase here last year.

But I get the sense that punters are getting a little caught up in the tale behind the race, and I just can’t be having Presenting Percy at 4/1 today.

While he had plenty in the tank at Gowran, it was over hurdles, it was a warm-up, and it was a Grade Two.

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Fair enough, he won the Gowran race last year before the RSA and he looks progressive, but there are four horses in this rated in the 170s, and Presenting Percy is not one of them.

Although, I guess that’s the whole point his supporters will make. This horse is all about potential. It’s always tricky to choose between a proven top-class performer and one that has plenty of potential but that’s why we love this game so much, and we should have a fascinating renewal in store.

Personally, I’m going with one of the proven ones, and last year’s winner Native River ticks the boxes for me around 9/2. With two losses since, he falls outside of the ‘last time out winner’ trend but the ground was good on those occasions, which is simply not his thing.

I’m taking a chance by overlooking those races, but I don’t think he lost anything in defeat, and a stamina-sapping race like the Gold Cup on what will be hopefully soft-enough ground can see him bounce back and grind out a win.

Clan Des Obeaux is another for the shortlist for Paul Nicholls.

 

Stat attack: Foxhunter Challenge Cup

Often called the ‘Gold Cup for amateur riders’, Earthmover won The Foxhunter Chase (4.10) for Paul Nicholls at the age of 13 (2004), while Three Counties won aged 12 for Mercy Rimell (1989).

But those were the only two horses aged over 11 to win since Real Rascal in 1975, and older horses appear to struggle. Tipped by the Betting Ring column last year, Paul Nicholls’ Pacha Du Polder won this at 25/1 but if the stats are anything to go by, he could struggle in 2019, now aged 12. That said, given his record in this race (he also won in 2017), he’s not dismissed easily.

The likely favourite, Stand Up And Fight, is one of three seven-year-olds who have a reasonably good record with four wins since 1998, one of them actually being the aforementioned Earthmover in his younger days.

 

Race-by-race guide to Day 4

1.30

He’ll most likely be odds-on, but Sir Erec can give Joseph O’Brien another Festival winner. Formerly trained by his father Aidan, he was placed in a Group Two and has been most impressive over timber with two wins including a Grade One.

 

2.10

Jane Williams’ Monsieur Lecoq catches the eye around 12/1. He hit 1/3 in-running before being caught by Malaya in the Imperial Cup handicap off 135, and is due to go up to 138. He gets in here off his old rating of 132 so looks a few pounds ‘well in’.

 

2.50

Dinons’ five-race winning streak was brought to an end in a Grade Three last time but he’s definitely in with a shout. Preference, however, is for Nicky Henderson’s Birchdale (6/1), a point-to-point winner at Tyrella which won a Grade Two here in January.

 

3.30

Presenting Percy is the big Irish hope here, but last year’s winner Native River can grind out another win around 9/2. He was beaten in his last two races but the ground was good which didn’t suit and looks primed to double-up this afternoon.

 

4.10

Road To Rome is seeking his fifth straight win and won’t be far off, but I’m keen on Gordon Elliott’s Ucello Conti (9/2) under the hugely talented Jamie Codd over the Gold Cup course and distance. He comes here in good form following wins at Thurles and Navan.

 

4.50

Kerry Lee’s Top Gamble gets the each-way vote around 20/1. Third in this last year off 149, he’s been out of sorts lately and fell on his latest two starts which is unfortunate, as he normally jumps well. The handicapper has eased his mark to 143.

 

5.30

A total outsider at 40/1, Philip Kirby’s Sakhee’s City is being overlooked in the markets, but I reckon he has a chance of landing a place so is taken each-way. He’s a temperamental sort but races here off 130, 1lb higher than his last winning mark and could be one to either top off – or else salvage – the week.

Indo Sport


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