Can Captain Chris really win a Cheltenham Gold Cup?
Had any other Gold Cup entry than Captain Chris won the Grade 1 Ascot Chase by 19 lengths easing down, punters would be tripping over themselves to take 20-1 for the Gold Cup. Philip Hobbs has declared his intention to run but the ten-year-old has not produced his best form on his last three visits to Prestbury Park.
The son of King’s Theatre won the Arkle Trophy in 2011 and followed up at Punchestown. The following season he finished third to Kauto Star in the King George and was on course for a tilt at the Gold Cup when lining up at Cheltenham in the Argento Chase.
After a mistake at the second, Captain Chris repeatedly jumped out to his right and Richard Johnson was eventually forced to pull him up before the eighth fence. He was given special schooling and ran in the Ryanair at the festival in 2012, staying on into fourth but never really threatening.
He looked a much happier horse when winning the Grade 2 Amlin Chase at Ascot next time and then ran the race of his life in the 2012 King George to finish second to Long Run. The going was heavy that day and it was only in the dying strides that he was overhauled by Nicky Henderson’s Gold Cup winner.
In last year’s Ascot Chase, he made a bad blunder at the second last behind Cue Card before running in the Gold Cup. His tendency to jump out to his right surfaced once again and he was well beaten in sixth place.
After a promising third to Riverside Theatre at Huntington, Captain Chris put up a mighty performance to slam Champion Court at Kempton. He was even more impressive at Ascot on Saturday but Hobbs is now faced with the usual dilemma.
He is leading towards letting the horse take his chance because there are no other obvious targets until Sandown and Punchestown in April. All of the recent evidence suggests that Captain Chris is a much better horse going right-handed.