Paul Nicholls has two entries to cast his eye over in Friday’s 3.25 Grand Military Gold Cup, the Sandown contest’s 3m110y distance more likely to suit 2013 winner Merrion Square at better value over his younger stablemate Howlongisafoot.
Merrion Square will return to the race where he outclassed Tafika significantly back in 2013, making his current 7/1 value with Bet365 well worth a punt. The good to soft ground will suit the Bay who has also enjoyed the longest time out of the 12 runners taking part, 199 days having passed since he was beaten by Byron Blue on his latest hurdle race outing at Worcester in August last year.
Jody Sole was victorious in February’s Royal Artillery Gold Cup meanwhile aboard the Nicholls-trained Cowards Close, and will team up with the trainer once again to this time ride the much-faniced Howlongisafoot in Friday’s contest at the same Sandown venue. The six-year-old starts 11/10 favourite despite only one Sandown outing to his name, when he finished runner-up to a more aggressive Generous Ransom in December.
That was over a considerably shorter distance than what stablemate Merrion Square has been used to, although he built on that solid second place by going one better at Taunton to earn a lenient 5lb rise.
Loose Chips warrants plenty of respect after finishing runner-up in last month’s Royal Artillery Gold Cup to the Nicholls/Sole partnership, while Tom George will want better from Ballyallia Man than the third place he mustered that day when he showed no impression on the leaders.