Wednesday 13 December 2017

Quick Jack can strike blow for Martin

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

TONY MARTIN'S Gift Of Dgab will tackle tomorrow's Paddy Power Gold Cup along with John 'Shark' Hanlon's Hidden Cyclone.

The shrewd Co Meath handler has a couple of intriguing runners on part one of the three-day Cheltenham gala.

While Martin's smart mare Victrix Gale ought to have a big say on the forecast decent ground in the opening amateur riders' chase, Quick Jack is fancied as his best chance of a winner at the other end of the programme.

Ruby Walsh's mount faces 19 largely in-form rivals in the two-mile handicap hurdle, so it is hardly a straightforward task.

Still, four-year-olds have won three of the last four editions and this unexposed individual has the profile to add to that tally now.

Twice a winner and three times a runner-up from five starts on the Flat in 2013, Quick Jack ran out a more authoritative winner than the half-length margin of his latest hurdle outing at Listowel suggests.

He had the race put to bed when he began idling in front on slow ground, before then continuing to progress on the level, winning a decent race at Navan en route to his third in the November Handicap at Leopardstown.

Today, Quick Jack will race off a 9lb higher rating than he would at home, but, having earned his initial ranking on deep going, the suspicion is that he still has scope to outrun a figure of 113.

Good ground should also enhance Victrix Gale's prospects under Jamie Codd, but Steven Clements could be the man to keep on side here.

Clements rides the handicap blot Standing Ovation for David Pipe, so it would be no surprise to see him add to the one winner that he has partnered for Pipe already from just two rides.

In the two-mile handicap chase, Terence O'Brien's Ballyadam Brook can cause a bit of an upset under Paul Townend on this better surface, though our five in the cross-country race could be up against it if Diamond Harry is on his game.

Nick Williams' 2010 Hennessy Gold Cup hero had a taste of the discipline when third in France in June, so he appeals now that he receives from all bar one of the other 10 runners.

Irish Independent

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