Char­lie MCCann

Char­lie’s back­ing Don Poli to land the 2016 Gold Cup

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

The novice Coney­gree won a won­der­ful re­newal of the 2015 Chel­tenham Gold Cup and,de­spite hav­ing been bowled over by his per­for­mance and that ofVau­tour in the JLT Novices’ Chase, my an­tepost rec­om­men­da­tion for the 2016 Gold Cup must be the RSA win­ner Don Poli who may lack the ex­u­ber­ance and bril­liance of his stable­mate but this in­do­lent sort will ap­pre­ci­ate the step up in trip and fast pace that is, seem­ingly, guar­an­teed if Coney­gree de­fends his crown.

Don Poli is un­beaten in three starts over fences hav­ing de­mol­ished a de­cent field in the RSA when he was six lengths too good for Paul Ni­cholls’ South­field Theatre who con­nec­tions re­ported post-race re­quired stitches af­ter pulling some skin off the back of a leg af­ter a mis­take at the top of the hill.

The race­course com­men­ta­tor sug­gested Don Poli came off the bri­dle about four out in the RSA but the truth is he was run­ning lazily and had been nig­gled by the ex­cel­lent Bryan Cooper for some time but he al­ways looked to have the race un­der con­trol and this trait may stand him in good stead when fac­ing the hill af­ter an ad­di­tional quar­ter of a mile next year.

Don Poli beat Apache Strong­hold 3l in a Leop­ard­stown Grade 1 over 3m at Xmas and us­ing Noel Meade’s charge as a barom­e­ter the se­lec­tion has a dozen lengths to find with the ex­u­ber­an­tVau­tour given the 15l beat­ing the lat­ter gave Apache Strong­hold in the JLT.

Vau­tour has yet to race be­yond twoand-a-half-miles and he would be some ma­chine if he were able to keep up the gal­lop of his JLT suc­cess for an ad­di­tional three quar­ters of a mile when he put in a fault­less round of jump­ing on fast ground (time nearly five sec­onds un­der stan­dard).Yes it is pos­si­ble that the 2016 Gold Cup might be run on sim­i­lar good to firm ground but if it was gen­uinely good to soft or softer ground I can’t see him run­ning.

The rains came on Fri­day 13th and Coney­gree ran ev­ery­thing ragged in the Gold Cup to be­come the first novice to land the Fes­ti­val Blue Riband since Cap­tain Christy in 1974 with a won­der­ful dis­play of jump­ing in a de­cent time given the un­der­foot con­di­tions. He is 10/1 at BetVic tor to be­come the first horse since Best Mate in 2003 to de­fend his Gold Cup crown but that surely can’t last given he is so light­lyraced over fences.

Coney­gree’s win in the Feltham Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day sug­gested the King Ge­orge would be a suit­able mid­sea­son tar­get and I feel he can once again lower the colours of Sil­vini­aco Conti, so dis­ap­point­ing at Chel­tenham, in the lat­ter’s hat-trick bid in De­cem­ber.

Djakadam was 2l be­hind Coney­gree in the Gold Cup and there is surely only one race he can be aimed at next year and that try­ing to go one bet­ter;I’m not con­vinced lead­ing owner Rich Ricci will let both­Vau­tour and Djakadam take each other on in 2016 with the Ryanair look­ing a more suit­able tar­get forVau­tour de­spite the fact that con­nec­tions,in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the JLT,sug­gested the Gold Cup would be his Fes­ti­val tar­get in 2016.

Don Poli is never go­ing to pul­verise his field, but his style of run­ning can of­ten be un­der­es­ti­mated. Ruby Walsh said on dis­mount­ing from Vau­tour that the chas­ing world was his oys­ter and he could be right but I sug­gest of the pair Don Poli is the one to get be­hind with the unique test of the 2016 Gold Cup in mind.

2016 Chel­tenham Gold Cup:2 points win Don Poli 6/1 at BetVic­tor and Sky­Bet

Don Poli

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