Next weekend’s three-day meeting at Cheltenham is second only to the Festival itself for anticipation amongst HQ’s jumps racing fans, and the big ante-post betting race – the Paddy Power Gold Cup – has long been dominated by the Paul Nicholls-trained Saint Sonnet.
Ever since he was due to reappear in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow last month, but ruled a non-runner on account of drying ground, he has been steadily nibbled at in the market. Principally due to his red-hot trainer mentioning in the lead up to that Chepstow race, that it was being used as a prep run for his big target.
Into as short as 9/2 in places, he is very skinny now and there is surely some value to be had elsewhere. I think the market has focused on the right race at last year’s Festival as being the key piece of form – the Marsh Novices’ Chase. Saint Sonnet was an eye-catching midfield seventh in that, but the horse that was an ever-widening 8¾ lengths ahead of him in fourth is available to back at 12/1 for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at 2.15 at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Mister Fisher has long been a horse of immense promise, and I feel that he can start to realise that potential by winning what is often considered a perfect race for progressive second season chasers. At 12/1 with sponsors Paddy Power, who are also offering 5 places for each-way terms, he is an outstanding bet, and will surely only go one way in the market.
In mentioning Mister Fisher’s performance in last year’s Marsh Novices’ Chase, there are some very interesting time comparisons to be made with the other chases run over a similar distance on the Thursday of last year’s Festival – the Ryanair Chase and the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate.
That it came on soft ground, given he will be much better on the likely good ground this weekend (dry forecast for the rest of this week), and that he already has the beating of Saint Sonnet – Mister Fisher is much the standout horse from the Marsh Novices’ Chase. In chasing home Samcro, Min and Faugheen from off the pace and having to switch out at a crucial stage, he is worth marking up considerably.
When you then consider that the Ryanair Chase was run in a very similar time overall, differing slightly by the stronger earlier pace in the Ryanair but contrastingly and notably quicker finishing speed of the Marsh, then clearly Mister Fisher appeals as a second season chaser who will leave behind his handicap mark of 155 in no time at all.
Given the 1,2,3,4 home in the Ryanair are now rated 170, 167, 166 and 169, on the time comparison Mister Fisher is right in that ball park, and that’s before you factor in the improvement for another summer on his back and the likely better ground on Saturday.
The only other horse ahead of Mister Fisher in the market is Simply The Betts, who won the Plate on that same Thursday, and quite frankly on the time comparisons from that day, he is a wildly skinny price compared to Mister Fisher. Simply The Betts was very much favoured by front-running in a dawdle of a race that saw him much to best effect being able to pounce from the front. The overall time was much slower than the Marsh Novices’ Chase, and even the closing sectionals for Simply The Betts were much slower than Mister Fisher, despite having the advantage of going significantly slower in the early stages of the race.
Put simply, Mister Fisher is a great each-way bet at 12/1 with Paddy Power, as granted a bit of luck in-running, he has the beating of not only Saint Sonnet and Simply The Betts on those time comparisons, but he has also beaten the likes of Al Dancer and Good Boy Bobby in small field novice chases last season.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that you could also snaffle a bit if 33/1 for the 2021 Ryanair Chase about Mister Fisher, as if all goes according to plan, he could be much shorter come late afternoon on Saturday!