The Grade 2 Haldon Gold Cup is the feature contest at Exeter on Friday, a race that has seen some nice types win in the past, including Politologue, Greateteen and Eldorado Allen in recent years. Could we have another top class prospect come out of the race this year?
GG writer Jake Russell previews this years race, before giving his expert verdict on who he expects to win.
Last year’s renewal saw GREANETEEN reclaim his crown, having won the race in 2020. This time he made all to record a comfortable victory, despite having to concede over a stone in weight to his rivals, and giving Paul Nicholls a record 8th win in the race:
Key Race Trends
- 9 of the last 12 winners were aged 6-7.
- 5 of the last 12 winners were favourites, 10 of the last 12 winners were in the top 3 in the betting.
- 2 of the last 12 winners won on their last run before the Haldon Gold Cup, 11 of the last 12 winners ran 187 days or longer ago.
- 7 of the last 12 winners had at least 1 previous run at Exeter, 5 of the last 12 winners had at least 1 previous win at Exeter.
- 10 of the last 12 winners had at least 6 previous runs over 16-18 furlongs, 12 of the last 12 had at least 2 previous wins over 16-18 furlongs.
- 10 of the last 12 winners had at least 5 previous chase runs, 11 of the last 12 winners had at least 2 previous chase wins, 9 of the last 12 winners had at least 3 previous chase wins.
- 11 of the last 12 winners were rated 151+.
- 9 of the last 12 winners had at least 1 previous win in a grade 1 or 2 race.
1. Editeur Du Gite
(Gary Moore/Niall Houlihan)
The class act in the race, a Grade 1 winner last season as well as two very good runs to come 4th in the Champion Chase and Celebration Chase, although well beaten he probably just found the races a little to hot to handle, and maybe the long season caught up with him.
His Grade 1 last season came in the form of the Clarence House Chase, which was reverted to Cheltenham due to an abandonment at the usual course Ascot. The manner he won the race was a terrific performance, leading all the way around before he looked to give way to the closers, however he battled back so very gamely up the Cheltenham Hill to land the prize, with some very good Grade 1 horses in behind. Since then he was well beaten on the next two starts (The two 4th placed efforts), so you wonder if that Clarence House race left a little mark on him.
He does have a fair chunk of weight to carry around on Friday, and his record fresh reads mixed signals. However he is by far the highest rated in the field, which could count for something if he is tuned up and ready to go. It will be great to see him and Niall Houlihan pinging the fences once again this season.
(Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden)
Trainer Paul Nicholls has an excellent record in this contest, with him holding the record of most wins in the race with 8 previous winners. That roll of honour includes Politologue and Greaneteen who have Grade 1 form now. His runner here Solo does seem to operate better at the slightly longer distances, mainly being around the 2m4f mark, a trip that he won a Grade 2 at Kempton last season. He has previously run well in some decent contests at 2-miles, however he recent best form would be over the longer trip.
Now that does slightly make me wonder does he have the speed compared to most of these real 2-mile chasers, however given Paul Nicholls’s record in the race you have to take all of his runners very seriously. Solo is a Grade 2 winner previously, which was his penultimate start of last season, and he does come into this race off the mark of 149, which does fall short of the trend of 11 of the last 12 winners were rated 151 or higher.
He does have a few things against him heading into this, therefore he might be best watched for when he takes a step back up in trip shortly.
3. Brave Seasca
(Venetia Williams/Charlie Deutsch)
A bit like Solo, the Venetia Williams horse does fall short on the previous trend of 11 of the last 12 winners of the race being 151 rated or higher. But I think the fact there is a lack of horses in this race rated 151 or over just sums up the 2-mile chasers at present, especially in the UK. However, this horse was once rated 154 at his peak last season, he gained that mark after winning at Aintree on his seasonal debut, landing the class 2 Boylesports Daily Money Back 2nd Handicap Chase by just under 2 lengths. He then ran three times after that success, running quite disappointingly only completing once out of his next three runs, pulling up on both of his last starts of the season. There was seemingly an issue with his wind, as he has had wind surgery in the summer, which could easily do the trick for this horse.
He would need to bounce back to that Aintree form from last December, which was his last real decent effort. There are a few risks attached to backing him however, as you would maybe be banking on the wind surgery to work wonders here.
4. Indiana Jones
(Mouse Morris/Darragh O’Keeffe)
The combination of Mouse Morris, Darragh O’Keeffe and Robcour Racing had a very good weekend just gone in the UK, landing the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby with Gentlemansgame, beating Bravemansgame in the process. Also Darragh O’Keeffe is riding very well at present, operating at a 38% win strike rate for the last 14 days.
Rarely does Mouse Morris send a horse over to the UK for this sort of race, if he doesn’t think it has a real chance of winning. Their runner here Indiana Jones comes into this season operating in open company, after a pretty decent Novice Chase campaign last time, where he won on two occasions, at Punchestown and then winning a Grade 3 at Navan. He has already had a race this season, which was 26 days ago at Cork where he was a fairly well beaten 6th of 10 runners. That would have seemingly blown away the cobwebs for Mouse Morris’s runner here, as his record fresh isn’t that great.
That run last time would have put him right for this, and Darragh O’Keeffe heads over for just the one ride at Exeter on Friday. Any Mouse Morris horse that comes over from Ireland for a race of this nature has to be taken very seriously, with these softer conditions suiting him.
5. Elixir De Nutz
(Joe Tizzard/Freddie Gingell)
A very nice ride her for young Freddie Gingell who gets a spin around Exeter on Elixir De Nutz, a previous Grade 1 winner over Hurdles a few seasons back. This horse does have a pretty decent record over fences, with 15 runs to his name, including three wins and five 2nd placed efforts. It was his win in a class 2 handicap contest at Wincanton last season that was probably a career best effort for Joe Tizzard’s grey. As he utilised his lowly mark of 138 at the time, to make all and jump superbly, before pulling away to win by just over 8 lengths.
He now operates off the mark of 146, which is the same mark that he came 2nd on in the class 2 Scotty Brand Handicap Chase at Ayr for his last run of last term, only going down by a head at the line. He like Indiana Jones has already had the first run this season, so certainly has the fitness edge on most of these, but it was a slightly disappointing effort when coming last of 5 at Chepstow last month, well beaten by 32 lengths. He did finish very tired however, so it was clear that race was run as a pipe opener for this contest. Cue Card won this contest for the Tizzard’s (Trained by Colin, ridden by Joe) back in 2012, so I am sure they would like to replicate that success from over 10 years ago.
6. War Lord
(Joe Tizzard/Brendan Powell)
The last of the two Tizzard runners, War Lord is the lowest rated in the field and is 20lb’s lower in the ratings than Editeur De Gite, which means he does get a massive chunk of weight off the Grade 1 winning Gary Moore horse. One thing to note that is interesting is that Brendan Powell has decided to ride this horse instead of the yards other runner Elixir De Nutz. Given the fact Brendan gets to ride the Tizzard horses on a daily basis being the yards retained rider, it would suggest he fancies the chances of this horse more than the other runner.
War Lord who once came 2nd in the Grade 1 Close Brothers Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown a few seasons back also went on to come 4th behind Edwardstone in the Arkle at the festival that season. Therefore he shown a fair bit of promise that season and has always been well fancied in the races he contests in. He has slightly disappointed in the last year or so, with a mixed bag of letters and numbers to his form since his last win at Lingfield back in January 2022. He has however had the wind operation, which is something he desperate needed according to his trainer when speaking to Racing TV for their stable tour. Although they are unsure on if it has worked as yet (Stated he might need a run to be sure). You would imagine the fact he lines up here in this competitive Grade 2, with Brendan Powell booked to ride, would suggest he is ready to go come Friday.
A very tricky and trappy contest with a few of these coming back off a wind operation, and a runner who is well clear on ratings, therefore does have to carry a whole load of weight here. It is a difficult contest to decipher, however the fact Mouse Morris sends a horse over to run in a contest of this nature, considering what they did with Gentlemansgame over the weekend, means I shall side with their runner here. A Novice Chaser last season, Indiana Jones heads into open company this season, and he tackles a Grade 2 already, which might suggest connections think he could be a whole lot better this season. Off the mark of 147, that could be a little lenient for what he could become now a year older and wiser, and all the yards horses are very tough individuals, as shown in the Charlie Hall chase over the weekend. Darragh O’Keeffe heads over to ride him here, who is in top form operating off a 38% win strike rate for the last 14 days, and this is his only ride on the Exeter card. With race fitness on his side with that pipe opener just 26 days ago, he could strike whilst the yard and jockeys iron is hot. He is the one I would side with here, mainly on the race his ceiling could be higher than most of these and the race fitness is in his side.
SELECTION: Indiana Jones – To Win (6/1 generally)
*Odds Correct At Time Of Writing – 4.25pm Wednesday 8th November*
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