Irish Gold Cup Tips: Side with Percy at the prices

Presenting Percy caught the eye when fifth in last month's Savills Chase at Leopardstown.
Presenting Percy caught the eye when fifth in last month's Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

Dan Harrold previews Sunday’s Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown and picks out his best bet in the race, as the form of the Savills Chase comes under scrutiny…

This year’s Irish Gold Cup has attracted a fascinating field of 10 runners, and the feature race of the Dublin Racing Festival will be undoubtedly be a tough puzzle to solve, with Edwulf’s shock 25/1 success in this race two years ago still fresh in the memory. 

Willie Mullins struck in this 12 months ago with Bellshill, and he will aim to win this for the second year running with Kemboy, the 7/4 favourite at the time of writing. Kemboy was a revelation last season, winning five of his six races, with the only blot on his copy coming in the Cheltenham Gold Cup - when unfortunate to unseat at the first fence. He quickly made amends for that mishap when winning easily at Aintree the following month, beating the now dual King George hero in Clan Des Obeaux by nine lengths, and the final start of his campaign saw him take another notable scalp in the form of the current Cheltenham Gold Cup holder Al Boum Photo, producing a performance which ear-marked him as one of the best staying chasers around. He was a little underwhelming when fourth on reappearance in last month’s Savills Chase, however, and though he will likely strip fitter for that run, he doesn’t offer an awful lot of value at his current price - for all that he’d be the clear one to beat if running to his official rating. 

Gordon Elliott has yet to win this race, and he relies solely on Kemboy’s Savills Chase conqueror Delta Work this time around. A top novice chaser last season, Delta Work proved his class with a cracking effort to finish third in the RSA Chase, form which now looks very strong. He built on a lacklustre reappearance to produce a career-best effort in the Savills last time out, and although he has to confirm the form of that here, he would be a danger to all if able to repeat that effort. However, he will likely need to improve on his jumping to do so, and his current price of 2/1 feels too short as a consequence. 

One that could offer some value at his current price is the Pat Kelly-trained Presenting Percy, who’s currently a 9/2 shot. A top novice two seasons ago, winning the 2018 renewal of the RSA Chase, Presenting Percy was rather puzzlingly campaigned last season, and found himself rather wrapped up in cotton wool ahead of a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup. That never materialised, and he could only muster eighth in the blue riband event, reportedly finishing lame. However, he’s shown far more promise so far this term; shaping well over an inadequate trip when third in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown in December, before finishing a close-up fifth in the Savills last time out. He shaped as though he was being brought along with bigger targets in mind that day, and it would be no surprise should he prove far closer to his peak this time around. Indeed, he’s perhaps the forgotten horse in the staying chase division, and considering that he wouldn’t have to find too much to reverse the form with Delta Work, he looks good value at his current price to return to form here.  

Also worthy of a mention is Chris’s Dream, who was a clear-cut winner of the Troytown Handicap at Navan in November. That performance was worthy of a crack at this kind of company, though he would likely need to take another significant step forward to feature here. Also with something to find here is last year’s winner Bellshill, who has been lacklustre in three starts since that success. He was seventh on reappearance in last month’s Savills Chase, and although he will likely take a step forward from that outing, he can’t be backed with any conviction at present. Finally, the English raider La Bague Au Roi can’t be discounted. Admittedly, she was underwhelming on her first two outings of the season, but she looked far more like herself when chasing home Lady Buttons in a listed mares’ chase at Doncaster last month, and although this is a notable step up in grade, it is worth noting that she won the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase on this card last season, and she would have each-way claims at the very least if returning to her best here. 

In summary, with both Delta Work and Kemboy having something to prove for differing reasons, it may be worth siding with the classy Presenting Percy, who offers plenty of value at the prices. He has work to do to overturn the form of last month’s Savills Chase with the aforementioned duo, but he ought to strip much fitter here now he has two runs under his belt, and it would be no surprise should he prove his class. 

Selection

Irish Gold Cup, Leopardstown, Sunday 2nd February 2020 - back Presenting Percy at 9/2

Irish Gold Cup
Presenting Percy silk

Presenting Percy

placed

In an competitive-looking renewal of the Irish Gold Cup, it could be worth siding with Presenting Percy at the prices. He could only finish fifth in last month's Savills Chase at Leopardstown, but he shaped well, and should strip much fitter this time around. A return to his peak form isn't unfeasible, and he offers plenty of value at his current price. 

Cheltenham Tips
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