Lots has been said recently about if ante-post tipping is still a viable option now that Willie Mullins has such a strong hand and how this can mean very late decisions as to where his powerful team are going to run.
I thought it might be a good idea to record the best price of the main protagonists as we go throughout the year. So as of today, 22nd June, the Gold Cup 2017 market looks like this:
- Thistlecrack 8/1
Don Cossack 8/1
Cue Card 11/1
Valseur Lido 25/1
Don Poli 33/1
Black Hercules 33/1
Killultagh Vic 33/1
Vroum Vroum Mag 33/1
Native River 33/1
Carlingford Lough 33/1
Road To Riches 33/1
Nichols Canyon 33/1
Don Cossack, Coneygree and Road To Riches will be 10 years old in 2017 and Cue Card and Carlingford Lough will be 11. No double figure aged horse has won the Gold Cup since Cool Dawn in 1998 so would that put you off any of these 'veteran' chasers? Denman (twice), Kauto Star and Mon Mome have all been placed in the last ten years when ten or older and On His Own lost out by just a short-head to Lord Windermere in 2014 when he was ten years old. I wouldn't be put off simply because a horse's age hasn't been succesful in a while.
However, I do think the likes of Cue Card, Djakadam, Don Poli, Road To Riches and Carlingford Lough have probably missed their best chances for winning a Gold Cup.
I think you could argue that 8/1 about a defending champion looks more than fair but I'm not a massive fan of Don Cossack so I'd pass him over too. I'd like to see Coneygree and Killultagh Vic back on the track before seriously considering either of them.
As for the younger horses, personally I feel Thistlecrack is no value at his current odds considering the task he has against him.
I couldn't back Nichols Canyon, Vroum Vroum Mag or Douvan given the variety of other options they are likely to have.
Vautour appeals most to me of the horses at the head of the market but his price is probably about right considering how his target race changed last year.
Blaklion, Native River, Valseur Lido and Black Hercules are all on the improvers list and are likely to attract some support but the last named could be a fair price at 33/1.
Black Hercules won the JLT at Cheltenham after being favourite for the NH Chase for a lot of last winter so is obviously versatile when it comes to trip. Mullins said after his JLT win that his immediate thought was to aim the horse at the Ryanair in 2017 but it could be worth chancing that his owner Graham Wylie would prefer to aim his best horse at the Gold Cup. Wylie was beaten a short-head with his On His Own in 2014 so would surely want his best horse heading for the Gold Cup, especially as it is a race he has never won at the Festival.
So at this stage I'm willing to take a small chance on Black Hercules at 33/1.
1pt win Black Hercules @ 33/1 for the 2017 Gold Cup
Do any other members have a horse they have backed or are going to back yet for the Gold Cup?