The Cheltenham Paddy Power Gold Cup is the first key race of the NH season... and we have a live contender in what looks a wide open contest.
I was really impressed with Boondoomas’ performance at the weekend when he won the 2 mile Class 2 Handicap Chase carrying a big weight and keeping on strongly after the last to win going away by 3 lengths. (Our selection in the race Eastlake was pulled up and you can read why here)
Boondooma was quite free in the early stages of the race (he was reported as being very free to post), and appeared to run in snatches at a couple of points in the race. Will Kennedy had to bump him along a couple of times coming into the back straight but he immediately answered when shook up on the bend and he cleared away with ease with everything else in trouble from that point on. He was slightly awkward at the second last which gave his pursuers some hope, but really stood off at the last and stayed on strongly all the way to the line. This was an impressive performance considering he had been off the track for 308 days (watch a video of the race on Sporting life here).
Trainer Dr Richard Newland confirmed: "Boondooma came out of his win at the weekend well and the plan is to come back to Cheltenham for the Paddy Power Gold Cup. I was very pleased to see him settle better in his race on Saturday. I think two and a half miles should work for him, providing he doesn't do too much in the first half of the race. I think softer ground suits him best. He is up to 154 in the ratings now, which is a bit scary, but I think this year's Paddy Power Gold Cup looks likely to attract some good horses at the top of the handicap which should help."
He won this cosily; especially as his shrewd trainer stated he ran him here to take the “fizz” out of him. He should have no problem stepping up in distance with the extra half mile as he has already won over the trip as a hurdler. This race has recently tended to go to an improving second season novice and he certainly fits that bill, rated 135 as a hurdler he took a couple of outings over the larger obstacles to get the hang of things, but gave Melodic Rendezvous a fright before runnning right away from a decent yardstick in Ifbutandwhynot. His jumping looks controlled and measured and being up with the pace he shouldn't get into too much trouble in running. He has gone up 12 pounds in the official ratings since this time last year but it looks like there is still quite a lot more improvement to come.
His main rivals are likely to be Kings Palace, but although he has been impressive dismantling small fields he has disappointed each time he has raced more competitively and we have to take on trust that his confidence has returned after a bad fall last season. Oscar Rock has always promised to be a decent horse and will be a danger if he handles Cheltenham. 2013 winner Johns Spirit is another who is shortening in the betting and should give a good account, although he is up a massive 18lbs since that win and was pulled up on Sunday at Aintree in the Roan Chase after being hampered by the ill-fated Rhajdani Express. Any Irish raiders (especially Apache Stronghold) would warrant close inspection.
Boondooma has already attracted money from an opening 16/1, but even at the 12/1 available (Ladbrokes only go 8/1), the 3/1 for the place is great value and I am confident that he can improve again and go very close to winning this..
Cheltenham Paddy Power Gold Cup - Boondooma 1 point ew @ 12/1
The Cleeve team