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Horse Racing

Cheltenham – Saturday 11th December

Saturday 11th December 13:50

WhichBookie racing analyst Will Smith provides his thoughts for the Racing Post Gold Cup at Cheltenham today, with two EW picks.

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Bookie Selection Best Odds Market Bet
Midnight Shadow 7/17/1 each-way (5 places)
Cheltenham 13.50
Place BetPlace Bet
Dostal Phil 15/215/2 each-way (5 places)
Cheltenham 13.50
Place BetPlace Bet

Date of Tips: 11/12/2021

Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (08:55 11/12/2021) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.

The Racing Post Gold Cup Handicap Chase at 1.50 at Cheltenham today is a puzzle that I have been trying to dissect ever since the initial entries came out three weeks ago, and on countless occasions I have been close to putting up ante-post selections.

Patience is a virtue however, and I feel in a much more comfortable position to give my thoughts on the race, though I have even held off an extra day after being tempted to put something up last night.

In an effort to let the weather forecast for Cheltenham develop, it seems that what we are left with is essentially exactly as we were yesterday – ‘good to soft, good in places.’

So…all things considered – weather, ground, form, pace scenarios, a change from Old to New course, and what I am left with to recommend, are two horses that I sided with for last month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup!

Time and time again, handicap chases at around this trip are won by horses who can travel at the generally generous tempo, but stay within their comfort zone. Step forward old pal Midnight Shadow, who essentially defines the type of horse you need for this assignment.

At 7/1 with Paddy Power for 5 places each-way, I sense that had Coole Cody stood up at the second last in the Paddy Power Gold Cup a month ago, then Midnight Shadow would have won more impressively, and as such be shorter than the 7/1 quoted.

Allowed to idle in the closing stages, Midnight Shadow’s superiority was hidden by the eventual winning margin, and his ability is as suited to the New course used for this race, as it is for the Old.

There were plenty that were finishing visually ‘faster’ than Midnight Shadow last month, and of them Lalor might have preferred softer ground today, while I can’t believe Paul Nicholls didn’t have him 100% ready then. While Zanza has always had battles with his jumping, and that will be put under the most extreme pressure yet again.

So, for the other pick it is Dostal Phil, at 15/2 each-way that you should side, once again with Paddy Power for 5 places. Some will sense that Dostal Phil might need soft ground, but his runs at Aintree and Punchestown last spring allied to how well he came home on decent ground last month, mean that he is a big winner waiting to happen on this kind of surface.

The crucial part for me will be riding him that little bit more prominently in the early stages of the race, as now he has matured and settled into his racing, this tactical nuance can see him fulfil his potential. The hood that was once enlisted has been dispensed with, and now is his time.

At 7/1 and 15/2 respectively, Midnight Shadow and Dostal Phil surely fill two of the 5 places on offer for each-way bets with Paddy Power, and hopefully one can go the distance and get over the line in front.

Of the others, I’d have reservations about Fusil Raffles in a bigger field rushing pace scenario, Farinet on grounds of experience, Silver Hallmark on the livelier-than-ideal ground, and the rest perhaps don’t seem either quite good enough, or in the requisite form needed to take a race of this nature.

Stick to the tried and tested I say…

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