Punchestown Gold Cup verdict: ‘This race would undoubtedly have been the plan’ 👨‍💻

Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson

‘This race would undoubtedly have been the plan’

Last year’s victor Clan Des Obeaux returns to try and defend his crown. He takes the same path having won the Aintree Bowl for the second time when last seen. The form of that race is much stronger this year with Conflated back in second and the winner had more in hand than the winning margin suggested.

This horse comes alive during the spring as despite being a dual King George winner, he has disappointed through the winter in the last couple of seasons. The application of blinkers at Aintree definitely had the desired effect in a similar way to how the cheekpieces inspired him to win the big Aintree and Punchestown double last term.

Last weekend at Sandown proved how good a planner Paul Nicholls is with his five-timer and this race would undoubtedly have been the plan all year.

‘He might have one more big one in him’

Allaho and Fakir D’oudairies both have stamina doubts in this year’s renewal of the Gold Cup, but I still think the latter is going to run a huge race in the famous JP McManus colours. He had no real excuses when 18 lengths third to Clan Des Obeaux last year but he seems to have ripened a bit this term.

I will freely admit that he hasn’t looked like a stayer at all but he has only had a crack at this sort of trip twice in his career. At Aintree, I was impressed with how he finished off his race as he was asked a few questions turning for home but he answered them all. Campaigned shrewdly this season, he might have one more big one in him.

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