The Greatwood Gold Cup Chase is a fairly recent addition to the British National Hunt calendar, having been run for the first time in 2004 (3.25pm on Saturday at Newbury over 2m4f live on CH4 TV). However, Paul Nicholls has saddled seven winners, including six out of the last eight, so his entries this year, Art Mauresque (6/1) and Sametegal (7/1) must certainly be respected.
Art Mauresque who, in the absence of regular partner Nick Scholfield, is due to be ridden by Noel Fehily, has twice been found wanting at this level since comfortably winning a novices’ chase at Cheltenham in October. The Policy Maker gelding has a decent strike rate, but may just need to drop a few pounds in the handicap before winning again.
Sametegal, who has the service of talented conditional jockey Harry Cobden, was a creditable eighth of 28, beaten 7½ lengths, behind Whisper in the County Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival off a handicap mark of 150. So he appears reasonably treated off a mark of 145 here. His 13-length defeat by former World Hurdle winner More Of That at Cheltenham in December was no disgrace, but he was turned over at odds-on in a small novices’ chase at Musselburgh last month, so he has questions to answer at this level.
Ultragold (8/1), trained by in-form Colin Tizzard (pictured), has been raised 11lb in the weights for winning a Class 2 handicap chase over 1 mile 7½ furlongs at Wincanton two weeks ago. More of a worry, however, is that he found nothing off the bridle on both of his previous starts over 2 miles 3 furlongs and 2 miles 4 furlongs, at Ascot and Sandown respectively. So, while he has been campaigned at up to 3 miles in the past, he may not be one to trust implicitly.
Little Jon (8/1) never really recovered from a mistake before halfway when only tenth of 14, beaten 31 lengths, behind Village Vic in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham in December. But he finished last of 11 behind the same rival in a similar race on New Year’s Day. He won over course and distance, off a 6lb lower mark, in November and the return to slightly faster underfoot conditions should help, but he probably needs a career-best performance to win this.
Bennys Mist (10/1) is 7lb higher in the weights than when beaten three-quarters of a length by Sound Investment in this race last year – the pair 17 lengths clear – but won well over the National fences at Aintree in December.
He may have done too much too soon when only third of 10, beaten 7¼ lengths, behind stable companion Dare Me, off his revised mark, at Ascot six weeks ago and makes strong appeal at the odds on offer. All eight of his career wins have come on soft or heavy going, but with rain forecast for the South East before race time, some softening of the ground is a distinct possibility.
Notwithstanding French raider Pythagore (12/1), whose form is nigh on impossible to assess with any degree of confidence, our Greatwood Gold Cup fancy is Bennys Mist.