Irish Gold Cup Preview – Sunday 12th February
Last updated: February 11, 2017 by Leon Marshal
The big race at Leopardstown on Sunday is the £150,000 Grade 1 Irish Gold Cup over three miles. The race was first run in 1987 as the Vincent O’Brien Gold Cup and later as the Irish Hennessy. It is an established trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
Willie Mullins has a phenomenal record in this race with nine victories, four of them coming with Florida Pearl between 1999 and 2004. Jodami won the race for three successive seasons between 1993 and 1995 while Beef Or Salmon also won the race three times between 2003 and 2007. Carvill’s Hill (1989 and 1992) and Nick The Brief (1990 and 1991) won it twice and Carlingford Lough is bidding for a third consecutive victory this year.
Don Poli favourite for Irish Gold Cup
It is difficult to see the race having a great impact on the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting this year. Don Poli and Minella Rocco look the most likely to go on from here to the Festival meeting and both are currently quoted at 20-1.
Gordon Elliott trains Don Poli who was third in last year’s Cheltenham feature race, staying on from well off the pace. The eight-year-old son of Poliglote won the Lexus Chase last season and was favourite to repeat that success in December. He was ridden more prominently and led at the third last but could not repel the challenge of Outlander.
He could be joined by his progressive stable companion Empire Of Dirt, a ten-year-old gelding by Westerner out of a mare by Roselier. His biggest success came in a valuable Grade 3 handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival when beating Tango De Juilley by four lengths. He was raised 6lbs last time at Navan in November and ran on strongly to beat Abolitionist by four lengths.
Minella Rocco bids to bounce back from Aintree fall
Jonjo O’Neill also has two entries with Minella Rocco and More Of That. The latter is a former winner of the World Hurdle and seems more likely to run in the Denman Chase at Newbury this weekend. Minella Rocco is a seven-year-old gelding by Shirocco and he needs to bounce back from a fall at Aintree last time.
He beat Native River in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March under a fine ride from Mr Derek O’Connor. He ran a good race under a big weight on his seasonal reappearance when third to Viconte Du Noyer. He was made favourite to win a Listed race at Aintree in December but looked held when falling at the last fence.
Carlingford Lough has been aimed at this race since landing it for a second successive season last February. He was a fortunate winner last season when Valseur Lido unseated Ruby Walsh at the final fence with the race at his mercy. Jockey Mark Walsh gained his reward for perseverance as it had looked a hopeless cause on the home turn. Carlingford Lough warmed up for his hat-trick bid by finishing fourth to Jezki over hurdles at Navan last month.
Sizing John beat Sub Lieutenant by two and a half lengths at Thurles last time. That was over two and a half miles and he steps up in distance on Sunday. Zabana finished only seventh in the Lexus Chase and has a lot of ground to make up on runner-up Don Poli. Noel Meade’s Road To Riches looks the pick of the remainder, although he has not won since November 2015 and is also held on Lexus form.
Irish Gold Cup Betting Tips
Empire Of Dirt @9-2 Betfair
Each-way ¼ odds, 1,2,3
The Irish Gold Cup is due off at 4.00 at Leopardstown on Sunday and will be shown live on AtTheRaces.