Saturday sees the annual running of the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown. The Irish Gold Cup is a Grade 1 chase run over a distance of 3 miles with a total of 17 fences jumped. The race is seen as a trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, with two horses having won both the Irish Gold Cup and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season – Jodami in 1993 and Imperial Call in 1996. Ten runners are set to go to post on Saturday in what looks an exciting renewal.
The current ante-post favourite is the Noel Meade trained Road to Riches. In fine form last season, Road to Riches placed third in both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Punchestown Gold Cup. He made his seasonal reappearance at Clonmel in November, winning over an inadequate trip of 2 and a half miles and defeating the highly thought of Felix Yonger. Meade has reported this week that Road to Riches is in excellent form after a race course gallop at Punchestown last Sunday and he looks set to take all the beating on Saturday, before heading to Cheltenham next month.
Foxrock is the current ante-post second favourite and he comes into the race on the back of some fine efforts in top class company, including a third in the Lexus Chase during the festive period. Trained by Ted Walsh, father of jockey Ruby, Foxrock has however not won in over a year and it may be that eight-year old is just below top class and a drop in grade may well see him to better effect.
Leading Irish trainer Willie Mullins looks set to be triple-handed with On His Own, Sir Des Champs and Valseur Lido all set to run. Sir Des Champs won this race in 2013 and has since had a number of injury problems, being off the course for almost 2 years. A winning comeback run at Thurles in November was then followed up with a down the field effort in the Lexus Chase. Having now had a break and at a course that he has won twice at, Sir Des Champs may well run a big race on Saturday. Valseur Lido has had two runs so far this season, finishing runner-up to Djakadam at Punchestown in early December before falling at the last when tiring in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day. Like Sir Des Champs, Valseur Lido goes into Saturday’s race having had a break and he too could go well.
Other notable runners in Saturday’s race are First Lieutenant for Mouse Morris and the Edna Bolger trained Gilgamboa.
Road to Riches is the current 1.80 (4/5) ante-post favourite for Saturday’s race with Foxrock 8 (7/1), Valseur Lido at 13 (12/1) and Sir Des Champs at 21 (20/1). The horse racing tip for Saturday’s Irish Gold Cup is Sir Des Champs each-way at 21 (20/1).
By Scott McGlynn