Jonjo warns not to forget Taquin but could not be happier with More Of That
BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase | Grade 3 | Old | | 2m4f78y |C4/RUK
He is the only one to have beaten Annie Power when she has stayed on her feet, but we want more of that from More Of That and today is the perfect place for him to start making up for lost time.
That World Hurdle triumph was 32 months ago now. Annie Power has won four Grade 1s and famously followed in the footsteps of Flakey Dove to become only the fourth mare to land the Champion Hurdle in March. More Of That has stepped out of the spotlight and this will be only his fifth appearance since mastering the mighty mare.
More Of That was described by Jonjo O'Neill earlier this week as the best he has ever had so, off a mark of 154, he should be winning this. But that's the thing with the Open meeting feature: being ahead of the handicapper does not guarantee success.
Take Long Run, for instance. He was only third to Little Josh in the 2010 running despite competing off a mark of 158 and Sam Waley-Cohen taking off a further 5lb. He went on to win a Gold Cup and was rated 182 at his best.
Last year's winner is back for more. Bradbury Star was the last horse to win back-to-back runnings in 1993 and 1994 and if Annacotty is to repeat the feat he will have to do so off a 9lb higher mark than the one he was successful off a year ago.
There has never been a four-year-old winner, but very few have tried and kudos to Paul Nicholls for allowing Frodon to take his chance just a week after winning the Grade 2 Rising Stars Novices' Chase at Wincanton. It is an audacious attempt.
Nicholls has plenty of back-up if Frodon does not deliver. As De Mee shed his maiden tag over fences at Fontwell only last month but has some cracking placed form in novice chases from last season. Art Mauresque comes into the race at the top of his game too, while Bouvreuil completes Nicholls' four-pronged assault.
No sign of honeymoon ending
Adrian Heskin and Tom George are still in the honeymoon period and those who have followed them since Heskin became stable jockey could almost afford to go on honeymoon. He had ridden 12 winners from 47 rides and boasts a level-stakes profit of £41.83 for every £1 staked. They team up with Double Shuffle.
Winning ratings band
Nine of the last ten winners were officially rated between 139 and 148. The exception was Al Ferof, who landed the spoils in 2012 off a mark of 159.
What they say
David Pipe, trainer of Ballynagour
He has top weight now, which is obviously not ideal, especially in such a competitive race. It was a case of starting him off here or in the Betfair, so we said we would come here.
Jonjo O'Neill, trainer of Taquin De Seuil and More Of That
I was glad to see the rain earlier this week and I wouldn't mind a bit more for both, especially Taquin De Seuil. I know all the talk has been about More Of That, and you all know what I think of him, but I certainly would not be forgetting Taquin. He's in terrific form and had a lovely spin over hurdles at Chepstow to set him up for this. I'm very happy with More Of That and fingers crossed he starts producing what we think he is capable of.
Alan King, trainer of Annacotty
He loves to be fresh, so it was always the plan to go for this race first time out. He is 9lb higher than last year, but he was hobdayed in the summer and that could bring about a little improvement. The midweek rain was very welcome as he is better with ease in the ground as he can sometimes get done for toe when the going is faster, but Ian Popham has been down to ride him and he seems happy, so fingers crossed he’ll again be competitive.
Paul Nicholls, trainer of Art Mauresque, Bouvreuil, Frodon, As De Mee
Art Mauresque loves good ground, so if the ground stays like it is today I'll be well happy. He won well the other day and seems to have improved – he'll need to have. Bouvreuil goes well fresh and appears in good order, but it's always a hard race to win first time. Frodon won last week and has been really well at home this week and I couldn't be happier with him. No four-year-old has won this, which shows what a hard task it is, while As De Mee is in good shape.
Phillip Hobbs, trainer of Village Vic
He's very well, I've been happy with him in the run-up and he won't mind the ground if it rains, as he's pretty versatile in that department. The main problem is that he's 30lb higher than this time last year, but we have to start him somewhere.
Colin Tizzard, trainer of Sizing Granite and Sizing Platinum
Sizing Granite is a Grade 1 winner. I've got a feeling he might end up a three-miler, which is why we're stepping him up to 2m4f to have a look. If you took Fox Norton out of the race at Cheltenham three weeks ago, Sizing Platinum was ten lengths clear, and I think he's improved since. He's got a nice weight, and there's all to play for.
Rebecca Curtis, trainer of Vintage Vinnie and Potters Cross
Vintage Vinnie is in great form. We have him back nice and fresh for this and he's raring to go. I think he's progressed nicely this season. He is progressive and has a nice light weight, so let's hope he runs a nice race. I think this race will suit Potters Cross. We'll ride him positively and, hopefully if he can get into a nice early position and a good jumping rhythm he'll make his presence felt.