Cheltenham Tips: Dragon To Roar

Day two of the November meeting features the Paddy Power Gold Cup and we've got some value bets to help you enjoy the action.

There’s never a dull moment at Cheltenham. In the build up to Friday’s racing most of the talk was about the SSS Super Alloys Novices’ Chase which, with only two runners, looked like it would turn into a procession for 1/3 favourite My Drogo. All was going to plan for Dan Skelton’s charge until he crumbled on landing at the second last fence, and put Harry Skelton out the side door. Less than a length behind, My Drogo’s only challenger Gin On Lime also crumbled, but somehow Rachael Blackmore managed to keep the partnership intact. She composed herself and her mount to pop the last and sauntered to an uncontested victory. Who said two horse races couldn’t be exciting?

On the betting front Bun Doran ran a very solid race to pick up the place money at double digit odds. A bad jump early on cost him lots of momentum and he did very well to get back in touch and finish in third place. The two unexposed runners finished ahead of him, but he looks on a workable mark and could be a horse to look out for if pitted against opposition with less potential to improve.

Zan The Man

There’s only one place to start and that’s with the feature race, the Paddy Power Gold Cup (14:15). It is always a superb race and this year’s lineup has lots of quality. Al Dancer went off favourite for the race last year and looks like keeping the favourite tag on this occasion. He’s 5lb better off than when finishing third in that race and Sam Thomas has his string in good form. I think he could find one or two of the field too good again and I’m happy to take him on. The Dan Skelton pair are interesting contenders. Spiritofthegames is a hardened handicapper who never seems to run a bad race at Cheltenham. He had a pipe opener over hurdles last week at Newbury and is a good each way shout with firms paying extra places (22/1 SkyBet 7 Places). Protektorat brings the class to the race and, if he can repeat his run when winning the Manifesto Chase at Aintree when last seen in April, he’ll be hard to beat. Lalor and Simply The Betts are contenders now that they’ve switched Paul Nicholls. Lalor in particular is well handicapped and should go well, but I think his price is a little short.

My pick here is the Philip Hobbs trained Zanza. This horse needs, and probably deserves, a change of luck. He ran at the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals last season and on both occasions was hampered by horses falling, costing him any chance. On the preview circuit for Cheltenham he was the talking horse and his mark of 144 could underestimate his ability. I also like Hobbs other runner (Dostal Phil) but Zanza has a nice pull at the weights and that has clinched it for me. Zanza put in a decent performance at Exeter recently finishing third in the Haldon Gold Cup. This step up in trip looks like a good move and at 10/1 he’s a great bet.

Dragon To Roar

In the Paddy Power Games Handicap (14:50) I think Dragon Bones has a brilliant chance. This is a horse I’ve been following for a while, mainly because her form links in with Grangee. For those who are new to SportsRunDown, myself and LB are shareholders in the Grangee syndicate. Dragon Bones raced against our mare at Market Rasen in January, and she’s gone on to run some terrific races after that. In fact up until her last race she was unbeaten in every completed run since. In my opinion she was given a terrible ride last time out at Cheltenham and I think she’s better than the bare result. Onagatheringstorm was 10 lengths behind that day and, although he’s better off at the weights, I’m not sure he can reverse the form. Proschema and Sporting John look like the main dangers but I think the dragon will roar back to winning ways here.

SRD Selections

14:15 Cheltenham – Zanza (11/1) Each Way (Betfair 6 Places)

14:50 Cheltenham – Dragon Bones (10/3) Win