Coole Cody went up 6lb for his Paddy Power win
Coole Cody went up 6lb for his Paddy Power win

Weights & Measures | Coole Cody up 6lb for Paddy Power Gold Cup win November 17

Ben Linfoot's Tuesday look at the latest BHA handicap ratings movers and shakers is back with Coole Cody's 6lb rise the centre of attention this week.

Cody could go in again up 6lb

Coole Cody ⬆ 6lb to 143
Spiritofthegames ↔ stays on 148
Al Dancer ↔ stays on 154
Kauto Riko ↔ stays on 142
Sky Pirate ↔ stays on 134

Evan Williams keeps on saying that Saturday’s Paddy Power Gold Cup was mission accomplished with Coole Cody, but a teasing 6lb rise from the handicapper leaves the door open for a December Gold Cup tilt at the same track.

The late bloomer has only just taken to fences at the age of nine, but bar a slip after the fourth and a mistake at the third last he put in a polished display of fencing on just his sixth chase start to beat the now three-time course and distance runner-up Spiritofthegames.

Dan Skelton’s horse is a good yardstick in second and he had a clean run through from the rear, Sky Pirate’s mistake two out coming besides him rather than in front of him, which gave him a clear shot at the leader, but he couldn’t reel him in.

The strong-travelling Al Dancer in third gives further reason to believe the pre-race consensus that this was a high-class renewal, despite the disappointments of Siruh Du Lac, who unseated Tom Scudamore at the first, Mister Fisher, who was struggling a long way out and Saint Sonnet, who was beaten when falling at the last.

I put it to Williams that his horse could’ve been hit harder by the handicapper for winning a Paddy Power by over three lengths, but he quickly dismissed that suggestion. A return to Cheltenham in December, though, could well be on the cards.

“The handicapper doesn’t get it wrong too often,” he said. “They’re right 99.9% of the time. The second horse ran his race, he’s a good marker, the third horse has run a good race but he was the only one of last year’s novices that turned up.

“I’d have been unhappy if he’d gone up more than 6lb, put it that way, a summer jumper, let’s be honest, it would’ve been harsh.

“I was thinking of going back to novice company where the waters would be calmer, but off 143, it is tempting, perhaps we could roll the dice again in the December Gold Cup.

“The prizemoney in those handicaps is so lucrative, he’ll have an entry anyway. I suppose if we put a good claimer on him he’d be favourite so we’ll have a think. He’s come out of it grand, but we’ve no immediate plans.”

Tom O'Brien wins on Coole Cody
Tom O'Brien wins on Coole Cody

Coole Cody struggled after he won a Cheltenham handicap hurdle at the November Meeting by three lengths three years ago, with marks in the 140s over timber proving too tough for him.

It remains to be seen if that’s the case with his chasing career, but he’s certainly better over fences and his style of racing lends itself well to those 2m4f handicaps around Cheltenham, of which there are plenty.

Frodon has regularly shown the way for front-runners around the New Course at Cheltenham, while last year Warthog made all in the Caspian Caviar. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if Coole Cody managed to repeat his Saturday effort again next month and became the first horse since Exotic Dancer in 2006 to do the Paddy Power-Caspian Caviar double.

He did have race fitness on his side and things did pan out well for him, but he’s not handicapped out of things off his new mark, while without the slip perhaps he’d have won even easier – although Williams isn’t sure about that either!

“With this horse the slip might’ve woken him up and the loose horse might well have helped, too. He’s a funny horse, he’s a devil of a horse in a lovely way and the more hardship he has the better he can be,” he said.

The next four home were all left on the same marks with three of them; Spiritofthegames, Al Dancer and Sky Pirate all trading at odds-on in-running on Betfair.

Both Spiritofthegames and Sky Pirate are difficult to win with, but Al Dancer ran an encouraging race in third, travelling well throughout before he was outpaced going to the second last, his effort up the hill for third commendable considering he could’ve thrown in the towel.

He settled so well on Saturday he could be worth stepping up in trip to three miles at some point, and maybe that’s when we’ll see the hood return given he’s got form figures of 4-1-1 in the headgear - although on this evidence he doesn’t need it.

Gumball the best on the day, says handicapper

Gumball ⬆ 4lb to 151
Eldorado Allen ⬆ 3lb to 149

The handicapper thinks Gumball would’ve won the Grade 2 From The Horse’s Mouth Podcast Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday had he stayed on his feet and rates him 2lb better than race winner Eldorado Allen.

Going the better of the pair when capsizing two from home, Gumball had jumped beautifully up to that point but perhaps complacency kicked in given how well he’d been negotiating his fences.

Like Coole Cody, Gumball was well conditioned for this having had three races since resumption and that will have counted for plenty in the conditions, while he has to prove he can do it in the spring given he’s been stuffed twice at the Cheltenham Festival.

Eldorado Allen wins at Cheltenham
Eldorado Allen wins at Cheltenham

Saturday might well have been his day, so his untimely exit was unfortunate, and while Eldorado Allen probably was a lucky winner I’ve no doubt that he’s the best long-term chasing prospect out of the pair.

He jumped around Cheltenham really well for a novice having just his second chase start and if it came up soft in the Sporting Life Arkle he’d have an each-way chance at 20/1, although the looming presence of Shishkin in that antepost market may put off plenty this far out.

Sandown looks his bag – all of his best runs over hurdles were at that track – so the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase on the Tingle Creek card looks a likely port of call for a horse that Colin Tizzard clearly holds in very high regard after he said on Saturday: “I think he’s the best two-miler we’ve had.”

Slopes forgiven Cheltenham blips

On The Slopes ⬇ 2lb to 140

On The Slopes was a disappointing 3/1 favourite in the Mucking Brilliant Paddy Power Handicap Chase won by Magic Saint on Friday, but this was further evidence that Cheltenham is not his track and it’s worth keeping the faith with him.

Three times now he has failed to come up the Cheltenham hill and he proved a sitting duck in this race as he set things up nicely for the closers.

On The Slopes in winning action
On The Slopes in winning action

The positives were that he jumped well and raced with all the zest we’ve come to associate with him, so it would be no surprise if Chris Gordon has Kempton on the radar for him given he’s twice a winner over fences at that track.

Down 3lb to 140 following his two runs at Cheltenham this campaign, he looks well-treated on his Kempton form now and I’d be inclined to forgive him his reverses at Prestbury Park if he rocks up at Sunbury at some point in the near future.

Putting Chaos theory to the test

Captain Chaos ⬇ 2lb to 140

Dan Skelton’s Captain Chaos was pulled up for the second time this season at Bangor last Wednesday and while the handicapper ignored his first no-show at Cheltenham this time he dropped him 2lb to 140.

This horse always takes at least a couple of runs to get fit and his trainer helpfully indicates when he’s ready to go by refitting him with the headgear he seems to so badly need.

In 2018 he had form figures of 12-14-8 without headgear on, but sprang back to life on his fourth run of the campaign with the blinkers reapplied in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle where he finished second.

Captain Chaos
Captain Chaos

Then last year he was sixth at Chepstow and pulled up at Cheltenham with no headgear on, before first-time cheekpieces saw him finish runner-up for the second year running in the Rehearsal.

Returning blinkers saw him run a gallant second in the Classic Chase at Warwick before he hosed up in them in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster, a 54-length victory earning him an 8lb rise to 142.

That handicap mark might have to be chipped away at a bit more yet, but 2lb is better than nothing and he’s firmly on the radar for when any sort of headgear is back on, with blinkers the preferred weapon of choice.

Imperial Rule at Haydock?

Protektorat ⬆ 5lb to 154
Ofalltheginjoints ⬆ 7lb to 143

The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day could hardly have worked out better and Imperial Alcazar could prove very well treated at Haydock this weekend judging by the subsequent exploits of those that finished around him on January 1.

Controversially awarded the race by the stewards on the day, Fergal O’Brien’s horse lost it again after an appeal by the Skelton team saw first-past-the-post Protektorat reinstated as the winner.

Protektorat was superb at Cheltenham over fences on Friday and is now rated 154, while the fourth home, Ofalltheginjoints, looks a cracking chasing prospect himself after beating a good field at Exeter last Wednesday and he’s now rated 143.

Imperial Alcazar pictured in action
Imperial Alcazar pictured in action

Imperial Alcazar was eight lengths ahead of that horse at Cheltenham, but has only been sighted once since, in a novice hurdle at Leicester at the end of January, where he won with ease despite a couple of minor hurdling errors.

Rated 140 ahead of the Betfair Exchange Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle on Saturday, it’s no surprise that he’s been backed into an early favourite for the race as his owner’s bid to mark the 10th anniversary of Imperial Commander’s Betfair Chase victory in style.

This Week's BHA Major Amendments (November 17)

Anemoi 3lb to 136
Balko Saint 13lb to 126
Breffniboy 11lb to 120
Captain Blackpearl 13lb to 127
Captain Chaos 2lb to 140
Castle Robin 7lb to 126
Coole Cody 6lb to 143
Does He Know 2lb to 143
Eldorado Allen 3lb to 149
Gumball 4lb to 151
Hitman 8lb to 149
Irish Prophecy 7lb to 142
Kingswell Theatre 13lb to 140
Magic Saint 7lb to 159
Mercian Prince 10lb to 137
Mister Coffey 10lb to 138
Ofalltheginjoints 7lb to 143
On The Blind Side 5lb to 150 (Chase mark up 2lb to 147)
On The Slopes 2lb to 140
Protektorat 5lb to 154
Pym 4lb to 154
Remastered 6lb to 138
Talking About You 17lb to 117
William Henry 6lb to 151

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