IT is 13 years since Tranquil Sea won the Paddy Power Gold Cup. It was the Paddy Power Gold Cup then too, when Edward O’Grady’s horse was steered to victory by Andrew McNamara, before it became the BetVictor, and then became the Paddy Power again, although it will always be the Mackeson for many.
Irish horses have gone close since then, the Michael Hourigan-trained Dancing Tornado was second in 2010, the year after Tranquil Sea, and the John Hanlon-trained Hidden Cyclone finished third in 2013, again under Andrew McNamara, but there hasn’t been an Irish-trained winner of the race since Tranquil Sea, since 2009, and he was the first since Bright Highway in 1980.
That could change today, French Dynamite could bridge that 13-year gap. Mouse Morris’ horse was a high-class novice hurdler, and he battled on well to beat Ciel De Neige in the Grade 3 Pierce Molony Memorial Novice Chase at Thurles last March, the pair of them miles clear. On his most recent run over fences, he ran a big race to finish third behind El Barra in the two-mile-five-furlong novices’ handicap chase that has been won in the past by Kemboy and Asterion Forlonge, and this year’s renewal is working out really well so far. He was good on his debut this season, making all to win over hurdles back at Thurles three weeks ago.
The Robcour gelding is a talented horse, but he hasn’t been missed by the market and, at a bigger price, Ga Law could represent better value.
Jamie Snowden’s horse was a good novice chaser two seasons ago, winning the Grade 2 Rising Stars Chase at Wincanton, and finishing third in the Henry VIII Chase behind Allmankind and Hitman, and finishing second in the Pendil. He missed all of last season, but he ran a big race on his return in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree last month.
In rear from the early stages in that race, he made a significant mistake at the final fence in the back straight just as the pace was starting to increase. He did well in the circumstances to stay on as well as he did over the last three fences to finish a close-up third behind Riders Onthe Storm and Hitman.
You have to recognise the possibility that he will ‘bounce’ today, on his second run back after a long break, but there is also the possibility that he will progress from his Aintree run, his first run for over 600 days, since he finished second in the Pendil Chase at Kempton in February 2021.
He is only six and he has raced just six times over fences, so he has time on his side, he has the potential to go beyond today’s mark of 142. Two and a half miles is a good trip for him, and he goes well on goodish ground. There are lots of positives.
You can see Stolen Silver running a big race and, unlike Ga Law, he is proven at Cheltenham, he won there in April and he only just failed to catch Editeur Du Gite in the two-mile handicap chase at this meeting last year. He just doesn’t have the scope for progression that Ga Law has, from his handicap rating of 150, 7lb higher than the mark off which he won in April.
Simply The Betts is another who is proven at Cheltenham, and he could run well at a price, while Nassalam should be happier over two and a half miles and going left-handed than he was at Ascot last time, over two miles and going right. He would have been of greater interest though on softer ground.
Dads Lad and Thousand Tears, first and ninth respectively in a qualified riders’ maiden at Galway in July, dominate the market for tomorrow’s Unibet Greatwood Hurdle.
You have to respect Thousand Tears, given the proven ability that trainer Emmet Mullins – for whom he has raced just once – has at targeting a horse at a big handicap, as he proved two years ago in this race with The Shunter. And Dads Lad has been progressive over fences, he is really well-handicapped on his chase form, even on his British hurdle rating. But it may be that he is simply a better chaser than hurdler, and he, like his compatriot, hasn’t been missed in the market.
I Like To Move It looks a little over-priced in the face of the support that has come for the top two in the market.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ horse ran a big race in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in February, racing prominently and doing well to keep on as well as he did to go down by just a short head to Glory And Fortune in a race in which the hold-up horses came to the fore.
That race has worked out well since, with the winner finishing fifth in the Champion Hurdle and the third horse First Street finishing second in the County Hurdle. Also, sixth home was Knappers Hill, who has won four of his five races since, including the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle last time.
I Like To Move It was well beaten in the County Hurdle, but that simply wasn’t his running. He goes well fresh and he goes well at this time of year. His record in October, November and December reads 111115. He goes well at Cheltenham too, he has won twice there, and he is potentially well handicapped on a mark of 142, just 4lb higher than his Betfair Hurdle mark.
Ga Law, 1 point each-way, 2.20 Cheltenham Saturday, 13/2 (generally)
I Like To Move It, 1 point each-way, 2.55 Cheltenham Sunday, 7/1 (generally)