The weather is going to play a key role in the outcome of tomorrow’s big race, the Coral Gold Cup (Newbury, 2.50 p.m.). To start with, the cold snap might even claim the card altogether with a course inspection due at 7.30 a.m. on race day. Secondly, after little rain over the past fortnight, the going is likely to be ‘good to soft’ or quicker when the frost covers come off and horses that prefer decent ground will be favoured.
The top three horses in the market – Monbeg Genius, Complete Unknown and Mahler Mission – all look well-handicapped, particularly the former on his run in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. However, all three horses would also be happier with more cut in the ground.
I put up Mahler Mission for the race a week ago, with the only major negative now being the form of his trainer, John McConnell, who has not had a winner over jumps for 51 days and 41 runs. In the last fortnight alone, none of his 34 runners has won.
In contrast, fellow Irish handler Gavin Cromwell has his string in fine form with eight winners from his last 40 runners over the past two weeks at a strike rate of 20 per cent. He has also had plenty of successful raids over the Irish Sea this autumn and so I am going to put up his horse STUMPTOWN as a second tip in the race.
This gelding is only six years old, having already run over chases at the Cheltenham Festival when he was a close second in this year’s Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup on ground much softer than he ideally likes.
True, he races off a mark 8 lbs higher in the ratings tomorrow but, with a clear round, I expect him to run a big race off just 10 stones 2 lbs and with ground conditions in his favour.