The Insider: It's Home time

  • By: The Insider
  • Last Updated: December 11 2013, 11:20 GMT

Not surprisingly the Paddy Power Gold Cup provides the key formlines to this handicap run over the similar course and distance and, not surprisingly, the principals from that race dominate the market for the Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup.

Home Farm (l): Unexposed and on the upgrade
Home Farm (l): Unexposed and on the upgrade

It's not difficult to argue that Johns Spirit and Colour Squadron both remain well handicapped following their rise in the weights for last month's contest.

The former, who prevailed by three-quarters of a length, has risen by 9lb but connections felt that he hit the front too soon and idled on the run-in. It may have been his 10th chase start but he's looked a different performer this season and it would be surprising if he didn't have more to give.

Former stablemate Exotic Dancer defied a 10lb rise to complete the double in 2006 and the six year old has clear claims of following suit.

Colour Squadron is a couple of pounds better off (he went up by 7lb) and will rightly be popular given that he lost ground - exactly how much is open to debate - on Johns Spirit when hampered by a faller two from home.

He's yet to win a chase but his novice season was plagued by jumping problems which appear to have been rectified now.

He's raced just 13 times and it will be disappointing if he can't rank higher than his current mark while his stable is in good form.

The generally available 6/1 about that pair is far from unreasonable and appeals more than Grandioso at 8s. He has been cut following the five-day declarations but that looks to be more because of the fact that he is Paul Nicholls' sole representative in a race that he has won three times in the last four seasons rather than any underlying form claims.

A number of the stable's runners have improved more than might customarily have been expected from their reappearances but he could still have his work cut out to reverse Newbury form with Cantlow (who looks sure to shorten if chosen by McCoy ahead of Colour Squadron).

Salut Flo is the fly in the ointment as he's just 7lb higher than when slamming the opposition in the Byrne Group Plate at the 2012 Festival. He was also entered in the Paddy Power Gold Cup until declaration time so has, presumably, been ready to run for some time and, again presumably, has shown connections enough to believe that he can still cut it at this level.

There are a lot of ifs and buts in assessing his chance and the more tangible credentials of Home Farm make more appeal at a similar price.

Somewhat remarkably Arthur Moore hasn't saddled a single winner over fences in Britain in the last five seasons but he did send out What A Charm to win the Fred Winter in some style in 2011 and she landed the punt in some style.

Proof that when he has the right horse, Moore can get the job done as he said on Monday: "We used to always come to England in the old days when we had the right horses, rather than just waiting for the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals.

"We have won Imperial Cups, Game Spirits and Victor Chandlers but we just haven't had the horses lately."

Moore's six year old does have an alternative entry at Leopardstown over Christmas over three miles but connections have indicated that the Irish National third is set to line up at Cheltenham.

There's more than enough evidence to suggest that he has the pace for this shorter trip. Indeed, his last victory came over this distance in February when beating White Star Line by an easy five lengths; the runner-up went on to place at the Cheltenham Festival before chasing home Felix Yonger at Punchestown before returning to action in the autumn to win his first two starts over fences.

The Irish National came next for Home Farm and he wasn't seen out again until returning over two miles at Naas where he ran an excellent race behind the useful Rupert Lamb to confirm his wellbeing.

The British handicapper has allotted him a mark in the same region as his Irish rating, something that doesn't always occur - a mark that Home Farm looks fully capable of leaving behind this season and Moore believes that the race should suit his charge.

"We are bringing him over because it looks like an ideal race for him. He has a nice weight and it will help us determine where we are going for the rest of the season. He has only had five starts over fences so this will be super experience for him," the trainer said.

A son of Presenting, he should appreciate the decent ground that seems likely to prevail at Prestbury Park this weekend while he has already proven his ability to fence in a competitive, large-field handicap.

He is unexposed, on the upgrade and the 10/1 on offer is far too big a price to pass up about one of the most exciting prospects in the line-up who, incidentally, wears the colours of Moore's Champion Chase winner Klairon Davis as well as What A Charm.


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