Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup
3m 2f 110y, Class 1
|Friday 13th March 2015|
Nov 19 Trainer Alan King believes that Smad Place has the potential to be a challenger for glory in the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
King told reporters: "If I've got a horse that could run in a Gold Cup, it has to be Smad Place. I feel he has strengthened up a lot this season and given the impression that there could well be more improvement to come.
"He did everything but win (at the Festival) last season and was just run out of it at the line.
"Competing off his current mark (155), he would need to run well to earn a place in any Gold Cup field, but if we have a Gold Cup horse in the yard, he is the one.
"He's been placed on each of the three occasions he's been to the Festival."
Nov 13 Champagne Fever won the Clonmel Oil Chase really well from Alderwood on November 13 to become joint antepost favourite.
David Bridgwater is gearing The Giant Bolster's next campaign around a fourth successive crack at the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup next March.
Bridgwater said: "He's absolutely great. He's come back in older and more mature and seems to be doing everything right.
"He never used to inspire as being a good horse at home, but now at home he looks a good horse every day of the week.
"If he's straight and well, he'll go for the Charlie Hall, which is always a good starting point.
"But if he's not, he'll go straight to Haydock for the big one.
"He always seems to runs poorly up to the main day (Gold Cup), but that's the nature of the beast.
"Then again, he's that sort of horse that it wouldn't surprise me if he won a good one on the way.
"Whatever we do, everything will be built around next March."
His fourth win on the trot saw the Jonjo O'Neill-trained chaser rise to the top of the 2015 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup market.
Jockey Tony McCoy said: "I would never have said he was a Gold Cup contender before, but he has beaten all of them today convincingly," he said.
"In form this horse will be the best chaser we see all year. It is not impossible for him to win the Gold Cup."
A comfortable victory for Carlingford Lough at the Punchestown Festival saw the eight-year-old earn quotes of 25-1 with Paddy Power for the 2015 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.
"He's always been a consistent horse and Tony gave him a brilliant ride," said Kiely. "He deserves a holiday now and we'll start him off in conditions races in the autumn and see what happens.
"He's been a very easy horse to train and this was perfect ground for him. There was a lovely cover of grass. He likes to come from behind."
A P McCoy added: "I think in fairness to John Kiely, he did everything because he's been on the go since Galway. It is great training to be able to keep a horse going at the top level.
"He seemed to handle the better ground today. He jumped well today, if a little bit left at times but the trainer really deserves all the credit.
"His owner (J P McManus) told me about a year and a half ago that he would win the Galway Plate. He's got more knowledge than most of us.
"He's done nothing but improve. His jumping has improved and that has helped him to improve. John Kiely deserves all the credit."
Winning owner J P McManus commented: "He hasn't missed a dance all season and to see how he was today is a credit to John Kiely and all his team.
"A P gave him the perfect ride. I'm sure he wouldn't have minded if they had gone a stride faster but he is a horse you have to hang on to for a while. Ruby (Walsh, second on Ballycasey) gave him something to aim at and thankfully he delivered. He is a really nice horse.
"I was tempted to run him in the Grand National but I think John thought too much of him to run him there so we brought him to Punchestown.