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Bet365 Gold Cup Betting Preview Part One

It appears as though punters are responding to the emphatic statements from Nigel Twiston-Davies about the chances of his star foxhunter Baby Run and his looming switch over to the handicap circuit ahead of this weekend's Bet365 Gold Cup. The popular Sandown fixture is a true test for many of the National Hunt's more blue collar types and the Aintree winner (and Cheltenham disaster) is being backed down as low as 5/1 ahead of this Saturday's contest.

We'll be taking a look at him and several of the other top contenders in our two-part series.

I was aboard Baby Run for both of his recent high-profile races and his tumble at Cheltenham really seemed to be the cost of doing business on these types of contenders but it also led you to question whether the younger of the Twiston-Davies boys was suited to him when he's running under circumstances like those. Willy Twiston-Davies put the doubters in their place with his dominant performance in the Fox Hunter's Chase though you can tell that back-to-back Cheltenham scores would have meant quite a bit to connections of the eleven-year-old son of Baby Turk.

It's the step back up in distance so soon after his last race that makes me wonder whether he'll really be able to outstay the rest of the opposition. He will likely adopt his usual running style and go right to the front, it's his tendency to clip a fence and blunder that makes you wonder whether he's worth the money. He doesn't make a general habit of unseating his rider but it has happened on two high-profile occasions in the past two seasons but the 5/1 price, should it hold around there, will likely entice some of us looking past the mediocre each-way selections here and having a proper win-only bash.  

With his running style, the race is likely his to lose – you're effectively backing Baby Run to remain in good form and not make a mistake with his jumping. It's not like this is a dramatic step up in class and he also gets a few pounds to work with. The difference in the weights could be the decisive factor and I reckon he's worth the money but I'm not exactly 100% bullish. At 7/1 I'd be saying we're good to go.

Balthazar King is the other major contender here and he goes in as the top weight and his price hovers just around Baby Run with a 6/1 or 7/1 listing. He is unraced at Sandown and you wonder how that might affect him. The going won't bother him at all if it remains listed as good but should things soften up then it might get taken away from him a bit as Baby Run will likely be on the lead and unable to mount an especially tiring pace.  

The Philip Hobbs-trained seven-year-old enters the race off two victories on the bounce but a closer inspection of those races takes the gloss off a bit. One was a three-horse-race at Hereford when he was sent off at 1/2 and the other was a middling sort of race at Cheltenham last weekend. He may not be fresh enough to make all at 3m5f and it will take an aggressive run from him at that weight if he's going to get the score.

West End Rocker really is due a bit of luck after being brought down at Beecher's on the first go-around of this year's Grand National. He is hitting at an impressive 141 rating at the moment and you reckon he just might be in the mix for this one if he can run his race. He's a seasoned handicapper and is one of the best shouts in the Alan King yard at Sandown on the day. His price looks fairly uniform across the board at 16s and he's shown the ability to make a mistake or two and still come back to get the win at the end. I actually prefer him as a win-only as opposed to an each-way selection as I think he either wins the race or finishes off the board.

West End Rocker is also unraced at Sandown.

Poker De Sivola took an unsuccessful kick at the Scottish Grand National can and came up short despite acquitting himself decently in the process until he unseated Graham Lee. His price is varying a bit with some bookies listing him at 12s and others into 16s. I would very much prefer him in the 20s and he looks a bit more active as a place-only selection based on lukewarm form over the past year or so.