Cheltenham Gold Cup tips 2019: Presenting Percy can do talking as his trainer keeps quiet
JC News|March. 14, 2019
Presenting Percy can make light of an unorthodox preparation and win the Cheltenham Gold Cup on the final day of the Festival tomorrow.
The centrepiece of the meeting has attracted a final field of 16 and, with the exception of 2017 winner Sizing John, who is injured, the cream of the staying chase division is all present.
Native River, Might Bite and Anibale Fly — the first three last year — return and then there is the King George one-two, Clan Des Obeaux and Thistlecrack, plus four Willie Mullins-trained contenders who all won last time out.
Also in the mix are Bristol De Mai, the dual Betfair Chase winner, Shattered Love, the first mare to win a novice chase in 23 years at the Festival 12 months ago, plus Elegant Escape, the Welsh Grand National winner.
It looks a wide-open Gold Cup but Presenting Percy appeals as the one capable of turning the contest into something of an exhibition.
One of the talking points in the build-up has been that he has not raced over fences since his brilliant win in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham a year ago, despite apparently having had no injury problems. The last Gold Cup winner not to run over fences earlier in the season was Easter Hero in 1929, so history is against him. However, there have been mitigating circumstances. His connections are adamant he requires soft ground to be at his best and, as a consequence, a number of races on unseasonably good going this winter have been rejected.
Instead, Presenting Percy showed his wellbeing at Gowran in January when he made his eagerly awaited return in the Galmoy Hurdle. A fluent defeat of racefit rivals over the smaller obstacles offered ample proof that he was well.
Trainer Pat Kelly avoids communication with the media — nobody is quite sure why — and prefers to let his horses do the talking.
His stable star, who will get the soft ground he enjoys, has done that at the Festival for the past two years, winning the Pertemps Hurdle in 2017 before his RSA triumph 12 months later.
His run in the latter showed all the hallmarks of a future Gold Cup winner as he travelled and jumped flawlessly before zooming clear from two out. Expect Davy Russell to bide his time before pouncing from off the pace.
Sir Erec, one of the bankers of the week for many, can get punters off to a great start in the Triumph Hurdle, while the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle can go to Lisnagar Oscar, who has twice won in fine style at Chepstow and Haydock. Whiskey Sour has plenty going for him in the County Handicap Hurdle, while the form of Hazel Hill in an easy win at Warwick last time out suggests he will make a bold bid in the Foxhunter Chase.
Whatswrongwithyou, trained by Nicky Henderson, is worth following in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase — a race named after his late father.
Finally, Early Doors, who has contested two Grade One races this term, can take advantage of a big drop in class in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
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