Cheltenham is a unique track where course form counts for a great deal, so Simply The Betts has the right profile to win the Paddy Power Gold Cup on Saturday at +500 with online bookmakers.
Three horses are vying for favouritism at that price and Saint Sonnet and Mister Fisher are at the top of the betting with the selection. However, Simply The Betts has the Cheltenham experience to win this handicap chase over two miles and four furlongs.
The seven-year-old has won his last two starts, both at the home of the jumps. Simply The Betts won a novices’ handicap chase over two miles and four and a half furlongs at Cheltenham in January. It was an impressive weight carrying performance and a good prep race for the festival.
Two months later at the National Hunt meeting that matters most, Simply The Betts won the Grade 3 handicap chase over the same distance. Happy Diva was one and a quarter lengths adrift in second place with three pounds less in weight.
The runner-up receives six pounds in Saturday’s race so in theory has more than one pound in hand. However, Happy Diva ran moderately on his last start just 15 days ago so Simply The Betts can overcome any potential weight disadvantage with that rival.
The Harry Whittington-trained gelding won two minor novice chases over nine days last November. He finished second in a novices’ limited handicap chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. The progressive horse then won those two races at Cheltenham and returns to the track after a 247 days break.
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Simply The Betts is the second top weight but is races off a winnable mark. The weight allocation is seven pounds more than for the festival win. Winning a competitive big field handicap at the festival augurs well for the horse’s prospects in the Paddy Power sponsored race.
The going forecast is good to soft-good in places and Friday looks like being a dry day. However, there is a high chance of rain in the Cheltenham area early on Saturday so the ground could be soft by post time. Simply The Betts last three starts were run on soft going so underfoot conditions are not an issue. However, Happy Diva has also won on soft ground.
Spiritofthegames was sixth behind Simply The Betts at the festival. The margin at the line was five and a half lengths running off the same weight. Spiritofthegames receives nine pounds so has a few pounds in hand but Simply The Betts has more scope for improvement.
Al Dancer won a novices’ chase at Cheltenham last October but there were only four runners in the field. Lining up with more experienced handicap chasers is a different proposition and Simply The Betts is proven in a big field at the course. Al Dancer could be found out in this 17 runner race.
Saint Sonnet is the joint favourite with Simply The Betts in some bookmaker lists. There is a 10lbs weight allowance but Saint Sonnet has something to find on the formbook. Finishing seventh in a Grade 1 novices’ chase at Cheltenham in March was a good effort there was not the pace to figure.
Mister Fisher came out of that race with better credentials for handicap chases. He looks good value for the 8lbs weight pull in favour of Saint Sonnet. However, Mister Fisher produces better form when the word good is in the going description which is not certain at Cheltenham this weekend.
There are no reservations with Simply The Betts about the ground, distance and running at Cheltenham. The Paddy Power Gold Cup is a good opportunity to go three from three at the track.