Paddy Power Gold Cup betting: Stage Star favourite for more Cheltenham success
Stage Star heads Coral’s 2023 Paddy Power Gold Cup betting odds at 9/2 following the final declarations for Saturday’s contest at Cheltenham.
Stage Star won twice at Cheltenham last term, including the Turners Novices’ Chase at the Festival, and he is well fancied to provide champion trainer Paul Nicholls with a third victory in this weekend’s feature handicap following the previous triumphs of Al Ferof (2012) and Caid Du Berlais (2014).
The Real Whacker is also a Festival hero, having edged out Gerri Colombe in a thrilling Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase in March, taking his course record to three from three over fences for Patrick Neville.
Dan Skelton will have high hopes for Unexpected Party, who unlike many of his major rivals does have the benefit of a recent run, having made an impressive return at Chepstow last month.
The eight-year-old may have only managed a solitary victory in testing conditions at Chepstow last season, but he did also finish second three times at Prestbury Park, including when chasing home Seddon at the Festival in March.
Fugitif (pictured below) will make his reappearance 22lb higher in the weights than when filling the runner-up spot at this meeting 12 months ago, but Hobson believes he is better than ever and did not feel it necessary to give him a prep run ahead of his latest bid for big-race glory.
He said: “Fugitif is in good shape. He’ll have his final bit of work tomorrow (Tuesday), he’ll have a pop (over fences) on Thursday and as long as that all goes smoothly we’re all set for Saturday.
“We decided we’d go straight there. I was thinking he was going to get there too soon fitness-wise, but actually he’ll just be spot-on.
“He ran lovely over two miles first time out last season and wouldn’t have been as fit as he is this time round, but he’s gone up a few pounds since then.”
On the prospect of potentially encountering testing conditions this weekend, Hobson added: “The wetter the better for him – you saw him at Chepstow last year. I think it’s just going to be nice, soft ground and that will be fine.
“He’s a strong horse and not far off 18 hands. He’s a weight carrier, he’s improved through the summer and he’s got a beautiful weight (11st 5lb) – I could nearly ride him myself!”
There are 14 horses still in contention with Laura Morgan’s pair of Notlongtillmay and Whistleinthedark, the Sam Thomas-trained Angels Breath and Authorized Art from the Willie Mullins yard having also stood their ground.
Coral’s David Stevens said: “A few runners have attracted support for Saturday’s big race in recent days, with Unexpected Party, Fugitif and Il Ridoto all popular this week, but Stage Star has been the long-time market leader and looks unlikely to relinquish that position now.”
2023 Paddy Power Gold Cup betting odds
9/2 Stage Star
7/1 Notlongtillmay, The Real Whacker, Unexpected Party
9/1 Il Ridoto
12/1 Angels Breath, Harper’s Brook
14/1 Easy As That, Torn And Frayed
20/1 Authorized Art, Final Orders, Whistleinthedark
25/1 Black Gerry
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All odds and markets correct as of date of publication