Greatwood Gold Cup Preview

By Samantha

Saturday’s feature race from Newbury is the Grade 3 Greatwood Gold Cup and it is ran over two miles and three furlongs.

Paul Nicholls has won eight of the fifteen renewals and he has Dolos, Warriors Tale and San Benedeto. The former is only six and has top weight. He won last time out beating Azzuri and should stay this trip. Stablemate Warriors Tale is ten but won the Grand Sefton at Aintree in December over two miles five. He was pulled up in the Sky Bet Chase last time out but is a dual course and distance winner so that is a boost for his chances. San Benedeto has struggled to get his head in front lately and his last win came in a grade one at the 2017 Grand National Festival, which was one of the biggest wins of jockey Nick Scholfield’s career. He has dropped to a 3lbs lower mark than that victory. He’ll be winning soon but I don’t expect it to be in this race as he finished last of ten last time out.

Phillip Hobbs won this in 2005 and he has two runners this year – War Sound and Gala Ball. The former seems to be the pick of the stable as Richard Johnson is on board. He won on his first start this season, beating Warriors Tale and Mercian Prince, and he did it really nicely. He’s been well beaten in this company since so that is a bit of a worry eventhough he has been well supported in the market. Gala Ball is coming off a 707 day break to run in this. He is a four time winner and was last seen in 2017, finishing second to Warriors Tale the last twice over this course and distance. Hew has a bit to find judging on these factors.

Dustin Des Mottes and Zalvados are both six year olds. The former is ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, who is in great form and has won this twice. He is very lightly raced underrules as he’s only ran three times. A winner in France, he was second to Azzuri, beaten half a length, on his second start for Dr Richard Newland. 4lbs splits him and the Dan Skelton horse, who had a really good summer in the care of Richard O’Brien in Ireland but he has struggled this season when running in the UK. Zalvados is a proper bridesmaid – he has been second on nine of his eighteen starts, including the last three times. I’m not convinced he will stay this trip.

Dan Skelton also has Value At Risk, as well as Azzuri. He is getting 10lbs taken off his back by young claimer William Marshall, who won on the ten year old last time out over this trip. He has won a Listed handicap chase similar to this before, beating Mercian Prince, and is a grade two Hurdle winner but is still a 20/1 shot. He could be each way value. Another claimer, Ben Godfrey, takes 7lbs off his mount, Shanahan’s Turn. The eleven year old ran just seven days ago and was beaten a long way. He was second in the Topsham at Aintree but will struggle in this.

Three female trainers are represented in this and all have good chances. Amy Murphy sends Mercian Prince from her Newmarket base and he won nicely last time out but a huge seventeen lengths over this sort of trip at Kempton. On his first start this season, he finished thirty eight lengths behind War Sound and before that he finished behind Value At Risk so has a bit to find with them. Emma Lavelle runs Javert, who can be a bit hit and miss. He defied a huge absence to win on seasonal debut and then went on to run a blinder in a grade two. He didn’t run too badly last time in a messy Cheltenham Handicap where my selection HAPPY DIVA, trained by Kerry Lee, was annoyingly brought down. Since then, this gutsy little mare has been second in a Grade Three similar to this; third behind highly rated Cyrname and, last time out, she won a Listed Mares Chase, beating the well-regarded Magic Of Light and Nightfly, who she runs against in this. She goes well at this trip, likes her jockey and I can’t see past her.

Nightfly won nicely in November and hasn’t done anything wrong since but was caught out in this company last time out so she will probably struggle in this class as there are worries about her stamina also. Master Dee has stamina in abundance as he’s being targeted for the Grand National. He overreached at Market Rasen in October and has since had a wind-op. He won a grade three over three miles at Kempton this time last year and should have a good chance if returning to that form. Loveable chestnut Valdez pulled up on seasonal debut but ran an improved race over two miles two furlongs to be fourth last time out. He won a grade two chase in 2014 but will need to step up.

Happy Diva and Value At Risk (EW)

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