Past Winners » Sizing John
I still think that there is an angle in the Gold Cup. I was always happy to take on Thistlecrack, so that angle is gone, but I think that the other two Colin Tizzard horses at the top of the market are shorter than they should be. Cue Card is an unbelievable horse, it is remarkable to think that he won the Champion Bumper seven years ago, and he looked as good as ever in the Ascot Chase last Saturday. However, he is 11, and older horses really struggle in the Gold Cup.
The last 10-year-old to win it was Cool Dawn in 1998. The last horse aged older than 10 to win it was What A Myth in 1969. Actually, the last 11-year-old to win it was Mandarin, and that was in 1962.
And older horses do try. In total, 68 horses aged in double figures have run in the Gold Cup since 2000, and all 68 have been beaten. And plenty of them were well-fancied. See More Business, Looks Like Trouble, Kauto Star, Denman, Cue Card himself last year, all tried, all aged in double figures, all well-fancied, all beaten. Cue Card may win it, he is an extraordinary 11-year-old after all, but he is shorter than he should be in my book, given how strongly the stats are against him.
Native River is more difficult to take on, he is a dour galloper who is only seven, he goes on good ground, he is proven at Cheltenham. However, he is well down the list on the figures, and I thought that the market over-reacted to his win in the Denman Chase by shortening him further. He looked good, but Bristol De Mai obviously under-performed, and he beat a horse in Le Mercurey who is rated 17lb inferior to him by three lengths. I think that he is opposable at 7/2.
I am backing Sizing John now. He is a top-class horse who spent his time as a novice hurdler and a novice chaser in Douvan’s shadow.
A Grade 1 winner as a novice hurdler and a Grade 2 winner as a novice chaser for Henry de Bromhead, he finished third behind Douvan in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and second to him last year in the Arkle. Stepped up in trip this year by Jessica Harrington, he stayed on strongly to get the better of the talented Sub Lieutenant over two and a half miles in the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles in January, and he stepped up on that when stepped up to three miles last time to win the Irish Gold Cup.
They did not go a great gallop through the early stages of that race, so there is a chance that Sizing John’s stamina was not fully tested. However, he saw it out well to get the better of Don Poli and Empire Of Dirt.
The Gold Cup is run over three miles and two and a half furlongs, and we don’t know that he will stay that trip, but he is by Midnight Legend and his dam won over two miles and five furlongs over hurdles on soft ground at Sedgefield three times, so there is every chance that he will stay.
There are stats against him too, because no Irish Gold Cup winner since Imperial Call has gone on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same year. However, Sizing John is like Imperial Call, an improving seven-year-old. Just three seven-year-olds have won the Irish Gold Cup since Imperial Call, one of them, Joncol, did not run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but the other two were Florida Pearl, who finished third, and Sir Des Champs, who finished second.
Sizing John goes well at Cheltenham, his record there reads 32, third in a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, second in an Arkle. He should do better on the better ground that he should get at Cheltenham, his jumping is superb, and, if he does stay the trip, he has a massive chance. I really like his profile too, a progressive seven-year-old who was a two-mile chaser last season, like Best Mate and Kicking King and War Of Attrition and Kauto Star.
He is a definite intended runner, but even so, be sure to back him with one of the firms that are betting non-runner-no-bet.
SIZING JOHN WON (ADV 9/1, SP 7/1)