Saturday 20 January 2018

Cheltenham 2015: Road to Riches looks to be paved with gold

Down Royal 1-11-14 ROAD TO RICHES & Paul Carberry Jump the last to win the Grade 1 JNwine Champion Steeplechase.(WWW.HEALYRACING.IE)
Down Royal 1-11-14 ROAD TO RICHES & Paul Carberry Jump the last to win the Grade 1 JNwine Champion Steeplechase.(WWW.HEALYRACING.IE)

Road To Riches can cap his massive progression this season by winning the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Trainer Noel Meade has had something of a love-hate relationship with the big meeting but recently stated he would rather win one Gold Cup than 10 Grand Nationals, such is his desire to land the most prestigious of the season.

Amazingly, Road To Riches was still running in handicaps in the summer, landing the Galway Plate with a thrilling all-the-way ride from Shane Shortall. Since then he should really be unbeaten.

Meade blames himself for leaving him short of work when caught close home by the veteran Sizing Europe at Gowran, but he has resumed winning ways lately.

He landed the feature race at Down Royal beating Rocky Creek decisively and then took his form to another level in winning the Lexus.

Meade decided to skip the Irish Hennessy so he could have him absolutely cherry-ripe this week and any drying of the ground is a plus.

His biggest threat may come from another Galway Plate winner in Carlingford Lough, but surely it is asking the fates too much to provide Tony McCoy with a Gold Cup win at his final Festival.

McCoy himself has let it be known he thinks Holywell, the horse he would have ridden had JP McManus not owned Carlingford Lough, is a massive player, and that is not to mention Paul Nicholls’ impressive King George winner Silviniaco Conti.

Throw in the last two winners of the race, Bobs Worth and Lord Windermere, Hennessy winner Many Clouds, talking horse Djakadam, race regular The Giant Bolster and strong stayer Sam Winner, and you have a wide-open renewal. Bobs Worth is feared.

Beltor looked the real deal when winning the Adonis at Kempton, a race which has proved a good stepping stone to the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

Trained by second-season handler Robert Stephens, he was with Mark Prescott on the level. A win at Ludlow suggested he was above average but when he destroyed a good field at Kempton, the Triumph dream was alive.

The fact he was able to quicken up impressively after the last having pulled hard early on marked him down as a very smart horse indeed.

In the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, Martello Tower can provide owner Barry Connell with a noteworthy success.

For the money he has splashed out he deserves a top prospect and this Mags Mullins-trained seven-year-old looks sure to be suited by this dour test. He is not flashy, but those types need not apply in this, and connections feel sure he will improve further for better ground.

Already a winner over three miles, stamina is not an issue.

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