2019 Haldon Gold Cup tips – Bailey’s 8/1 outsider can defy the odds to land Exeter win

Kim Bailey can win the Haldon Gold Cup with Charbel.Kim Bailey can win the Haldon Gold Cup with Charbel.

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the big race field for Tuesday’s feature race at Exeter, the Haldon Gold Cup.

The feature race of Exeter’s Tuesday jumps racing fixture is the Haldon Gold Cup sponsored by bookmaker Coral, and the Grade Two contest is a handicap over a trip of 2m 1f.

Getting underway as the third race of the card at 2.10pm, the classy fixture boasts a first prize in excess of £40,000 to the winner and many high-class performers have used this race as a stepping stone towards great things with recent winners including dual-winner God’s Own as well as the likes of Politologue, Sir Valentino, Somersby, Cue Card and Medermit since the turn of the decade.

Further back in time meanwhile, the roll-call of winners include Champion Chasers Azertyuiop and Flagship Uberalles, as well as Edredon Bleu, who won the race twice in successive years, as well as triple-Gold Cup winner Best Mate who took the prize in 2001 so the race certainly boasts a rich pedigree.

This latest renewal sees a small yet select field of runners going to post with six contenders lining up to face the tapes, and Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at Tuesday’s big-race field.

God’s Own (11/2, William Hill) represents the in-form Tom George team, and the veteran Oscar gelding is bidding to win this contest for a third time where he comes into the contest as the defending champion having took the crown twelve months ago.

A dual-Grade One winner earlier in his career, which includes beating Vautour at Punchestown to win the Champion Chase, he has continued to defy his advancing years with a succession of solid runs in defeat where he often makes the frame. However, he was winless following that success in Ireland until posting a defeat of Ozzie The Oscar in this contest last year, although he failed to add to his tally in four subsequent runs.

Last seen finishing around five lengths third behind Altior in the Celebration Chase at Sandown back in April, he can continue to give a good account on his reappearance where he has 3lbs less to carry than was the case last year although the softer ground this time around isn’t ideal and his winning form has mostly come on a better surface so he could be worth taking on.

Gods Own will be bidding for a third win in this race

Gods Own will be bidding for a third win in this race

Paul Nicholls meanwhile sends out Dolos (3/1, Coral) who has progressed over fences since scoring on his debut over the larger obstacles at Ascot back in November 2017, although the form of the Ditcheat runners at present leaves a little to be desired with many of the yard’s runners appearing to need their first run.

However, the Kapgarde gelding has shown that he can go well fresh on more than one occasion and he has won two of his last three starts, scoring at Sandown in soft ground back in February and then Kempton in May on better ground either side of a solid fifth behind San Benedeto in the Greatwood Gold Cup.

His latest success saw him beat former stablemate Solar Impulse by two lengths over a longer trip than this, although a further 3lbs rise for that success and dropping back in trip for this return perhaps aren’t ideal and he probably needs a shade more.

Lalor (7/1, Ladbrokes) made a very taking first attempt over fences, scoring with aplomb at Cheltenham during the November Festival to win the November Novices’ Chase.

Things didn’t go to plan for the Grade One-winning hurdler following that success where he failed to fire in soft ground at Sandown and back at Cheltenham in the Henry VII Chase and Arkle Chase respectively, pulling up in the latter having never travelled and jumping poorly.

He again failed to show his best back on a better surface at Aintree, beating only one home behind Ornua, and he needs to bounce back on his reappearance although the soft ground again is a worry for Kalyey Woollacott’s charge.

Lalor makes his return to action but needs to bounce back from some poor efforts last term

Lalor makes his return to action but needs to bounce back from some poor efforts last term

Destrier (9/4, William Hill) finished ahead of Lalor in that Aintree contest, and Dan Skelton’s charge had racked up prior wins at Southwell and Ayr earlier before contesting at the Merseyside venue where he finished three lengths’ third.

That was just the Voix Du Nord gelding’s third try over fences, and the lightly-raced sort is likely to have further improvement to come given her lightly-raced profile. She had won twice over hurdles during the 2017/18 season which included in heavy ground so these conditions will be no issue, and with the potential for better to come he ought to be competitive here although the yard has perhaps just gone off the boil somewhat in recent days.

Kim Bailey’s runners meanwhile are showing some good form, and it could be worth chancing then on CHARBEL (8/1, Coral) to get back to winning ways for the first time since beating God’s Own in last season’s Peterborough Chase.

The Iffraaj gelding has taken some time to get his confidence back over the larger obstacles following his 2017 Arkle fall, but he looked much more like his old self last term with wins at Chepstow and at Huntingdon, as well as twice finishing in the frame including behind Politologue in the Christy 1965 Chase.

Later efforts in the season were a shade disappointing, and he pulled up in the Ryanair Chase before beating only one home at Sandown on his next outing behind Black Corton in the Oaksey Chase. However, he should strip much fitter for a recent return at Chepstow following wind surgery, and if building on that outing then he could take advantage of his race-fitness over his rivals.

A soft-ground winner in the past, he should handle these conditions and the stiff track here will help to offset the drop back in trip. He hasn’t contested over this shorter distance since the 2018 Champion Chase, but with the yard in decent form he could prove the answer in a very tricky renewal.
Completing the six-runner field, Janika (4/1, Ladbrokes) showed up well in a handful of chase starts for Nicky Henderson having arrived at Seven Barrows from Guy Cherel’s French operation where he was a three-time winner over the larger obstacles.

The Saddler Maker gelding found one too good on each of his first three outings for Henderson which included twice being bested by Siruh Du Lac in consecutive runs at Cheltenham, and he showed the Grand National fences to hold no fears with a solid fourth behind Cadmium in the Topham Chase.

Trip and ground should hold no fears, and if building on the promise he showed last term then he ought to be firmly in the mix.

Janika represents Nicky Henderson in the Tuesday feature at Exeter

Janika represents Nicky Henderson in the Tuesday feature at Exeter

VERDICT

None of the sextet who goes to post for this contest can be ruled out with any confidence, but it might be worth chancing on likely outsider of the six in CHARBEL (8/1, Coral) to make the most of his fitness advantage over his rivals to come out on top.

Kim Bailey’s runners are coming into form, and the Iffraaj gelding is very capable on his day as he showed when thumping God’s Own – a dual-winner of this race – in last season’s Peterborough Chase, although things didn’t go to plan thereafter for the eight year old.

However, unlike his rivals he has had the benefit of a run this term and he ought to strip fitter now; he won at the second attempt last term, and he might be able to follow suit here having had wind surgery ahead of his recent reappearance and he might do better still as a result on his second run of the campaign.

His defeat of God’s Own last term in the Peterborough Chase came from a higher mark than this, and he may be able to make the most of his fitness advantage over his rivals.

2019 HALDON GOLD CUP SELECTION – CHARBEL (8/1, Coral)