Midnight makes Sandown Appeal
This Saturday’s Bet36 Gold Cup, or if you are old enough to remember it being called the Whitbread, signals the real crossover between the National Hunt and the new flat season.
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It was a race I was lucky enough to win twice during my riding days – back in 1993 on Topsham Bay and then a few years later in 1995 on Cache Fleur.
This year’s 3m 4f contest unfortunately lacks a bit of sparkle for me with Godsmejudge, who was runner-up in the Scottish National a few weeks ago, at the head of most bookies betting, and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Same Difference up there too - it could be significant that the last favourite to win this race was Beau back in 2000 – Twiston-Davies' only previous success in the contest.
My former stable – the Pipes – have a good record in the race with three wins, but David is looking for his first with them all being trained under Martin’s name, one of which was one my winners back in 1995 – anything they run should be worthy of a second glance.
Champion trainer elect Paul Nicholls is another handler with a decent record in the race – he’s won the prize three times too, most recently with Tidal Bay in 2012. He pins his hopes mainly on Bury Parade this time. An improving eight-year-old who was a staying on second in the BetBright Chase back in February, he will head here fresher than most after bypassing the big Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals. He’s only had eight runs over fences – winning three times and being placed in three others. He looks sure to be involved and also shapes as if this extra trip will suit him down to the ground.
Grand National-winning trainer Dr Richard Newland could cap off what’s already been a season to remember with Ardkilly Witness. This eight-year-old gets in here off a low weight and comes here in cracking form after a win at Market Rasen last time. He was fifth in the already mentioned BetBright Chase at Kempton the time before, but not beaten far and, on that form, looks to hold a decent chance too.
All the above mentioned are worthy for the shortlist, but the one horse that does interest me is Alan King’s MIDNIGHT APPEAL.
Yes, he took a tumble last time out in the Scottish National but the fact connections run him again so soon suggests all is well with the horse. Add in that he’ll love the softer ground and that he’s won over fences here at Sandown (form figures for his two runs at the track read '21') in the past too then everything points to a big run providing that recent tumble hasn’t impacted upon his confidence.
Bet365 Gold Cup Trends and Stats
11/11 – Raced in the last 56 days
8/11 – Carried 10-13 or less in weight
8/11 – Won over 3m or further previously
7/11 – Placed 4th or worse last time out
7/11 - Priced 14/1 or shorter in the betting market
7/11 – Aged 9 or younger
7/11 – Raced in the last 25 days
6/11 – Officially rated 140 or higher
6/11 – Came from the top 7 in the betting market
2/11 – Won by an Irish-trained horse
2/11 – Trained by Philip Hobbs
2/11 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
2/11 – Raced in the Aintree Grand National last time out
2/11 – Raced in the Scottish Grand National last time out
2/11 – Won their last race
0/11 – Favourites
The average winning SP in the last 11 renewals is 13.5/1 The last winning favourite was Beau in 2000