Pulse can make sure Irish eyes are smiling
Bookmaker Paddy Power may come to rue its sponsorship of the Gold Cup Chase (2.35) at Cheltenham today. Much of its trade is done on the high streets of Ireland, which is represented by four of the 20 runners. And while English horses dominate the market, an Irish victory is confidently expected.
But which one? Gonebeyondrecall is no forlorn hope at the foot of the handicap, although he must transfer form posted on smaller tracks onto jump racing's biggest stage. And Dancing Tornado, although unreliable, is just the type to spring a surprise.
On balance, however, Catch Me and Finger Onthe Pulse have stronger claims. Catch Me boasts a similar profile to stablemate Tranquil Sea, which won this 12 months ago for Edward O'Grady. Everything looks right but for the eight-year-old's habit of taking out the odd fence. That may prove costly in a race sure to unfold at breakneck pace.
That leaves Finger Onthe Pulse, which returned from losing its way to plunder the Galway Plate in the summer. Tony McCoy, who worked the oracle then, resumes aboard the rugged nine-year-old with a previous course victory to his credit. And his last run, when just behind Dancing Tornado over a trip beyond his best in the Kerry National, lends further encouragement. He makes excellent each-way appeal at long odds.
Finger Onthe Pulse likes to race prominently, which will help in a race featuring aggressive types in Tchico Polos, Little Josh, The Sawyer and Edgbriar. Those loitering early on will find it hard to reel in the leaders, while the untested Long Run, amateur-ridden as usual, has a lot on his plate despite his obvious potential.
Long Run gained his huge reputation in a sparsely contested novices' chase at Kempton last season. Although he was outstayed over three miles at Cheltenham in March, he made too many jumping errors to be considered here. Stablemate Mad Max has claims but this inexperienced giant is also error-prone.
Of the others, Poquelin will miss the injured Ruby Walsh, who excels aboard the seven-year-old, while Great Endeavour must demonstrate his Cheltenham Festival triumph was no flash in the pan before he can be entertained in this company.
Awesome George is another with each-way claims at fancy prices, but Finger Onthe Pulse gets the vote in a wide-open race.
FORPADY PRIMED TO seal WINNING RETURN
Channel 4's cameras stay at Cheltenham tomorrow for the last day of the first jumps festival of the winter, when some early Champion Hurdle clues will emerge from the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (2.20).
Top weight is no barrier to victory, especially where horses trained by Philip Hobbs are concerned. Both Rooster Booster and Detroit City have previously defied the burden, but Menorah may struggle to emulate them. There is nothing between him and Get Me Out Of Here on their Cheltenham encounter last March, after which Menorah gave best to General Miller at Aintree.
All three are fancied here but a chance is taken with Olofi, which receives plenty of weight from the principals. This progressive four-year-old has winning form at the course, and there was much to admire in the way he recovered from a blunder two out to make Escort'men pull out all the stops on his comeback at Chepstow last month. He will strip fitter this time.
Paul Nicholls has withdrawn Master Minded from the Sinbad Testimonial Chase (1.45), relying instead on Tataniano. However, this bold-jumping sort will surely struggle to repel Forpadydeplasterer, which receives 5lbs.
The selection can return to the winner's circle for the first time since he landed the Irish Independent Arkle Chase seven starts ago.