Smad Place EW – Betbright Cup, Chelenham
Saturday’s BetBright Cup, known to many as the Cotswold Chase, is an established Gold Cup trial, though rarely does the winner go on to triumph in the blue riband event come March.
This weekend’s renewal has eight entries after being reopened, and has a very appealing shape to it from a betting point of view.
Dynaste and Many Clouds are the two that the bookmakers have shunted to the fore of the market – best prices of 9/4 and 3/1 look a bit skinny to me. Dynaste is undoubtedly a very classy chaser, witness his Ryanair Chase win of last year if you are in any doubt, but whether he wants as stiff a stamina test as this race invariably is, I very much doubt.
While Many Clouds put up a roof-raising performance to win the Hennessy Gold Cup, but endured a very tough race – it will be some feat of training by Oliver Sherwood to produce his star in the same form on Saturday, at a course that until he proves otherwise, there must be doubts as to its suitability for the son of Cloudings.
Holywell is next in with some firms and again there are major doubts about him. His jumping, the ground and the fact he may divert to the Cleeve Hurdle combine to knock him off the list. And anyhow he has a knack of peaking in the spring.
Smad Place was beaten 20 lengths by Many Clouds in the Hennessy, but has a 12lb turnaround at the weights and the return fixture between the two is at his ‘home’ venue. Alan King’s likable grey has placed in two World Hurdles and an RSA Chase, and due to the weight structure of Saturday’s race he receives weight from every other rival and can make that concession tell by landing an overdue Graded chase on the way to a Gold Cup tilt in March.
At 9/2 with Coral he can be backed each-way now safe in the knowledge that they will pay out on 3 places in a race that may well have as few as five or six runners. The biggest danger to Smad Place comes from The Giant Bolster, who has won three times at this meeting, having won handicaps in 2011 and 2012, and this race last year.
He would be the first horse to win this race with a Graded race penalty since Grey Abbey in 2005, but has the ability, will stay, will love the ground and crucially will apparently have the hood and visor combination that worked so well last year.
He is 8/1 in a number of places and I certainly wouldn’t put you off him at that price, but it may be best to take 7/1 with Coral (and others) and secure the three places each-way offer.
Come the day I am sure both will be shorter and can’t see either being out of the three, in fact they are the most likely winners.