We've teamed up with Timeform to preview Saturday's Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, with Simply The Betts backed to emerge on top.
Coole Cody (Timeform weight-adjusted rating: 172)
Coole Cody didn't fare well on his first crack at chasing a couple of years ago, but he has made a much better fist of things this time around. Coole Cody looked better than ever when getting off the mark over fences on his first start for Evan Williams at Newton Abbot in August, cruising ten lengths clear of his rivals. He then found only a thriving, progressive rival too strong on his next start at Newton Abbot and he was by no means disgraced when runner-up at Cheltenham last month, producing a performance that was a match for what he'd shown previously. Coole Cody won a handicap hurdle at this meeting off a mark of 136 three years ago and, considering that he's looked better than ever since moving yard, an opening chase mark of 137 looks potentially lenient.
Simply The Betts (169p)
Simply The Betts enjoyed a fantastic campaign over fences last season, winning four of his five starts and finishing runner-up on the other occasion, and it would be dangerous to rule out further improvement this term. The Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Trials Day is always a competitive race but the latest edition won by Simply The Betts was notably strong as he beat Imperial Aura, with the pair pulling 11 lengths clear. Imperial Aura and Simply The Betts both went on to win at the Festival, landing the novice handicap and the Plate respectively, and it would be little surprise were they to end up contesting the Ryanair Chase this time around. Simply The Betts first has the opportunity to bag another big handicap prize and a mark 8 lb higher than the one he defied at the Festival may not prove beyond him.
The Timeform Flag
Siruh du Lac (Horse In Focus)
Siruh du Lac was well fancied for this race last season having gone unbeaten during the 2018/19 season – he notably won the Plate on his final start of that campaign – but he shaped as if needing the run and was pulled up after fading out of contention. He also failed to complete on his only other start last season, in the Plate won by Simply The Betts, but he looked set to play a big part in the finish before departing at the second-last when in a share of the lead. He has since had a wind operation and moved from Nick Williams to David Pipe – a trainer whose horses are in fine form at present – so it would be little surprise to see him launch a bold bid.
Siruh du Lac is very interesting on his first start for David Pipe, while Saint Sonnet is another who catches the eye having shaped well in the Grade 1 Marsh Novices’ Chase on only his third outing over fences, but Simply The Betts has rock-solid credentials and is the one to side with. Simply The Betts, courtesy of his defeat of Imperial Aura, can boast one of the strongest pieces of handicap form from last season, and he makes his return to action with trainer Harry Whittington among the winners. He can progress beyond handicap company.
Timeform weight-adjusted ratings:
172 Coole Cody
171 Siruh du Lac
169p Simply The Betts
168 Al Dancer
168 Happy Diva