Master Of The Stage
Course specialist makes each-way appeal
By Ian Ogg. Last Updated: 30/11/11 2:32pm
Poquelin: Can reward each-way support
The weights were revealed for the Spinal Research The Atlantic 4 Gold Cup on Wednesday and there were no surprises with course specialist Poquelin topping the weights.
Rather surprisingly, Paul Nicholls' eight year old has been relatively ignored in the market despite winning the past two renewals and having won three times over course and distance as well as finishing second in a Ryanair Chase.
He isn't as well suited by the Old Course but was still in the process of running a respectable race in the Paddy Power Gold Cup when unseating his conditional jockey three from home.
He wouldn't have threatened Great Endeavour that day but would have run to a similar level of form as when fifth to Little Josh 12 months earlier and we all know what he did after that.
Poquelin has a 5lb higher mark to overcome and there are better handicapped horses in the race but, back on his favourite stage and with Harry Derham looking increasinly good value for his claim, he looks vastly overpriced at 20-1 and should be backed each-way.
The principals from the November contest understandably dominate the market, including Great Endeavour, but there must be a big doubt regarding the participation of David Pipe's runner following two hard races.
Of the market principals, Quel Esprit takes the eye at the top range of his prices (available from 10-1 to 16s) as he's potentially very attractively handicapped.
However, he's had problems with his jumping and it would be slightly surprising if Willie Mullins were to risk his gelding taking a backwards step in that department following his encouraging return and I'd expect him to bypass this race as a result.
Noble Alan has a race of this nature in him but he always seems to make a race-ending mistake as he showed last time when travelling well.
The progressive Havingotascoobydo is considered as he looked as though he had more to offer when chasing home Tanks For That and the longer trip could help to unlock some of that improvement.
Preference, however, at a bigger price is for The Giant Bolster who is another to have struggled in the fencing department.
David Bridgwater's stable star was fancied to run a big race in the Paddy Power Gold Cup only to unseat at the first through no fault of his own.
He has since run an excellent race in the Hennessy Gold Cup where he looked likely to take a hand in the finish until his stamina ran out over the three and a quarter mile trip.
The drop in distance may provide a more thorough test of his jumping as they're likely to go a fraction faster but they didn't exactly hang about at Newbury and the clear round there can only have boosted his confidence.
That performance must have taken something out of him and it won't have been easy for his trainer to keep him at concert pitch given that he was cherry ripe for the Paddy Power but 20-1, twice the price that he started last month, underestimates his chance.