GOLD CUP           2019



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Friday March 15th- 3:30 

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Will Kelly's strategy pay off for Presenting Percy?

Presenting Percy has been the consensus pick for the Cheltenham Gold Cup throughout the National Hunt season, although the rest of the field has closed the gap as the race approaches.

Past ante-post favourites have not always gone on to win the Gold Cup. Last season, following his triumph in the King George VI Chase, Might Bite was the leading contender for three months. However, he was blown away by the pace of Native River down the stretch, finishing in second behind the Irish-bred horse. In 2017, Djakadam was touted to end Willie Mullins’ drought in the event, but he placed well off the pace as the 7/1 outsider Sizing John clinched the cup.

Kelly has been toeing a fine line being overcautious with his charge and thus leaving him short of rhythm ahead of the race. On the other hand, Presenting Percy will be fresh for the contest, enduring no niggles, which has forced other horses, including Stayers’ Hurdle champion Penhill, out of the Festival. However, he has not been battle hardened either as many of the other leading candidates have duelled it out over the course of the season.

Native River has a second and third-place finish to his name and has always proven to be a good runner at Cheltenham. Clan Des Obeaux has his victory at the King George VI Chase, while the veteran Thistlecrack placed second in the contest. Kemboy and Bristol De Mai also have impressive wins on the circuit, highlighting the challenge ahead of Presenting Percy. Kelly’s charge has a good pedigree, but he has never faced a test as arduous as this one and it will be interesting to see whether his strategy will have paid off come Gold Cup Friday.

The bay gelding has enjoyed success Cheltenham Festival in his two previous visits. In his first appearance in 2017, he won the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle, producing a fine performance to claim the win by a comfortable margin. Pat Kelly then put his charge forward for the RSA Novices’ Chase last season and once again he rose to the occasion with a dominant outing to claim the crown, finishing well ahead of the rest of the field.

It was that display that has convinced the bookmakers that Presenting Percy is ready to claim the premier prize of the week. The eight-year-old did secure a victory in his only race of the campaign in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle by one-and-a-quarter lengths at Gowran Park, proving that he had not lost a step during his ninth-month absence.

However, it should be noted that he has not faced the elite competition that he will come up against in the Gold Cup. Reigning champion Native River and King George VI Chase winner Clan Des Obeuax stand in his way of the crown. As highlighted by the top horse racing tips, Presenting Percy has not taken the traditional route of previous Gold Cup winners and that could be an important factor to weigh into the equation as to whether he has the quality to beat out his rivals for the crown.

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