Godsmejudge still on a winning mark at Cheltenham on Saturday
Lanarkshire-born trainer Alan King enjoyed one of the proudest moments of his career when Godsmejudge won the Scottish National at Ayr in the spring. The seven-year-old son of Witness Box stayed on strongly under a copybook ride from Wayne Hutchinson that day and has been raised 9lbs by the handicapper.
That is probably a fair reflection of his improvement following a promising third at the Cheltenham festival in the four-mile National Hunt Chase. King has vowed not to wrap Godsmejudge in cotton wool this season and he is expected to put up a bold show with ground conditions in his favour.
The weights are headed by the classy Burton Port who has now joined Jonjo O’Neill’s stable having been transferred from Nicky Henderson’s yard. He was one of the best staying novices around back in 2010 but has been plagued with injury over the past few seasons.
He showed that he retains plenty of ability when fourth in the 2012 Gold Cup but met with a further setback after finishing runner-up at Aintree. He weakened rapidly in his comeback over hurdles last month and may still need a race or two to put him right.
David Pipe’s Goulanes had his limitations exposed when only sixth in the RSA Chase in March and Bet365 Gold Cup winner Quentin Collonges is feared most. The grey battled on gamely to beat Same Difference at Sandown and is another having his first outing of the new campaign.
The feature race is the Paddy Power Gold Cup at 2.30 with Johns Spirit likely to go off favourite despite a 10lbs rise in the handicap. Astracad has a big pull in the weights having finished back in fifth that day and could represent each-way value whilst Kumbeshwar also looks over-priced on his best form.
Astracad’s trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, can strike in the Novices’ Chase with African Gold who looks a really nice staying prospect. He gave At Fishers Cross a run for his money here at the festival and he can get the better of Shutthefrontdoor and Sam Winner.
Selections: 12.40 Royal Irish Hussar, 1.15 African Gold (nb), 1.50 Godsmejudge (Nap), 2.30 Astracad (each-way), 3.00 Southfield Theatre, 3.35 Timesremembered, 4.05 Bull And Bush