The Kings are Dead. Long Live the Kings.

Fri, Nov 19, 2010

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The Kings are Dead. Long Live the Kings.

A fascinating Betfair Chase in prospect at Haydock on Saturday and another chance to see how the reigning monarchs of the jumps game shape up against the pretenders to their thrones. I’ve already nailed my colours to the mast of Sizing Europe as one of the up and coming generation of second season chasers that I expect to be a real force this season. Mikael D’Haguenet is only a novice of course but he’ll be a handful for the best around if thrown into the mix too. In the Betfair Chase though we get to measure the progress of What A Friend against the reigning Gold Cup champion Imperial Commander and there’s only one place the smart money should be going here.

Imperial Commander was a worthy Gold Cup winner last season and he first threw down the gauntlet to the old guard by coming within a whisker of turning over Kauto Star in this very race. A reproduction of either effort would of course make him a very tough nut to crack at Haydock. I think he will need to be at his best though if he’s to take care of business and take care of Paul Nicholls’ latest potential superstar What A Friend.

The way that Nicholls has handled What A Friends career so far speaks volumes about the esteem the horse is held in. He ran Denman a good second in the Hennessey last season before two Grade One triumphs in a carefully hand picked campaign of prizes. He’s already shown he’s good enough to give Imperial Commander a race but there has to be every chance that there is more to come. Paul Nicholls has recently discovered the joys of tweeting and has made no secret of how much he is relishing this race. I think there’s a very good chance we’ll see a dramatic shake up in the Gold Cup picture come Saturday afternoon.

Looking even further ahead, it’s interesting to note that the top 3 in the ante post market for the Gold Cup are the three previous winners Imperial Commander, Kauto Star and Denman. It would be a remarkable triumph for any of that trio to regain the crown. The stats are against it, history is against it and quite simply nature is against it.

There is no reason whatsoever to assume that any one of those three horses can run any better than they did last year. That means that only Imperial Commander should really be considered a possible winner. Even he though will have to reproduce his career best efforts to see off the potential improvers who are waiting in the wings.

I’m at risk of having a lot of egg on my face four months from now but I would be amazed if the same three horses are at the head of the market come raceday. In fact I’ll be flabbergasted if all three even turn up in the Gold Cup. I certainly think the smart move from a punting point of view is to look to the next generation. Sizing Europe, What A Friend and┬áMikael D’Haguenet provide a good starting point but I’ll be amazed if we’re not crowning a new king at Prestbury Park come the Festival.

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3 Responses to “The Kings are Dead. Long Live the Kings.”

  1. R Hills is God Says:

    There are two types of stats Boycie: ‘the stats’, the miserable ten year trend type stats, and STATISTICS of the variety that all the biggest winners in the world harness.

    Are these horses too old? I think one of Braveheart’s former inmates can provide the clues. Why not dig out some archive footage of Yavanas Pace, put it up on the ATR website and let’s see if we can spot the gorilla.

  2. DenLon Says:

    Hi Sean, only time will tell if you’re right or not. Of the 3 previous champions the one I would dismiss is Denman. Even though rising 11, Kauto Star can’t and neither can Imperial Commander rising 10. Of the 3 you’ve put up I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a horse to outstay Sizing Europe, What A Friend isn’t good enough and unless you know something the rest of us don’t, Mikael D’Haugenet must surely go the novice route. I’ll watch with interest if he runs at Naas on Wednesday to see how he takes to fences. If there is to be a changing of the guard then there are others you must consider like Pandorama & Weird Al. Long Run was very disappointing the other day, but surely we will see better from him.

  3. Patrick Says:

    I’ll nail my colours to the mast too as regards that dodgepot they call “Sizing Europe”.
    I can’t believe the amount of knowledgeable people who refuse or plainly chose to ignore the amount of times this horse has downed tools when seemingy full of running to be almost out on his feet?, I’m convinced this horse has major mental issues.

    Yes he might have won the Arkle but imo the horses superior jumping won the day, looked ike he was going to hose up only to be threading water half way up the Cheltenham hill, would have been overhauled in another few strides.
    Some said his defeat at Punchestown was a good run because he was beaten by his elders?, the two horses that finished in front of him were Golden Silver and Forpady who are the same age as Sizing, 8yo, ok both had one extra season over the bigger obstacles, in the Punchestown race Sizing done what he usually does when confronted by better opposition downed tools once again when the chips were down after jumping the second from home.
    I don’t care what distance they try this horse over, this dodgepot won’t be carrying any of my hard earned, I suspect Sean you do the same, this blind faith can be pretty expensive you know?.

    I’ll never forget that Champion Hurdle run, too many simiar type collapses since that race to ignore, but ignore many chose to do?.

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