Will it be a grey day for punters in more ways than one today at Cheltenham. Can Grands Crus the Paddy Power Gold Cup good thing get beaten? Crockford gives his verdict.

For weeks now money has been pouring on to the David Pipe favourite, in some places he has even been as short as 15/8 and is generally still around 2/1. But have the punters overlooked the dangers to him? Crockford certainly thinks that they have. There is no doubt that Grands Crus has quality, form and a reasonable weight to match, but punters would be foolish to underestimate his rivals. Another grey springs straight to mind – Al Ferof who also has Grade One form and won first time out last year.  The fairytale horse Hunt Ball is still fancied to improve by connections and it also appears that the Irish challenger Forpadytheplasterer is returning to form on an excellent weight. The third of the fancied greys Walkon has attracted some interest from backers but he would have to show his very best form in Crockford’s opinion to even make the frame. All considered Grands Crus is too short to back at 2/1.

Yesterday the Open meeting started with a grey novice winning impressively (Dynaste) and finished with the grey ghostly figure of Swing Bill coming out of the gloom up the hill – both for David Pipe. Pipe stands a good chance today with landing the second on the card with his other exciting grey novice Our Father – but he may be run close by the Tizzard’s Chepstow winner Masters Hill who is also a grey. All round it is likely to a grey day at Cheltenham.

The cards at Punchestown and Lingfield must not be overlooked as they are packed full of promise and class. In Ireland we will see Mount BenbulbenSimenon and Minsk all on show. On the all weather at Lingfield the 2012 Breeders Cup third Faraaj makes a reappearance as so does the highly respected Stasio for Simcock.

Stasio on the gallops
The highly respected Stasio should win today

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Stasio (3.20 Lingfield)

This highly respected colt ran well on his debut at Kempton just being touched off by a more experienced horse. Well touted by the stable and connections he will follow up with a win today.

Crockford’s Whisper – Al Ferof  e/w (2.35 Cheltenham)

Nicholls says that Al Ferof may come on from a run but the whisper is still strong for a big run from him today. Whilst punters rush to back the other grey Grands Crus they will be missing the true value of the race – Al Ferof.

Archer’s Selection – Faraaj (2.15 Lingfield)

A horse that was placed in the Breeders Cup running at Lingfield would not have been missed by the shrewd master of the turf. Archer would have fought any for this ride in the listed contest.

Crockford’s other gambles around the courses:

Cheltenham – Masters Hill e/w and Our Father (1.20), Teaforthree e/w and Chicago Grey e/w (1.55), Al Ferof e/w and Forpadytheplasterer e/w (2.35), Lovcen (3.05), Brick Red e/w and Buy Bob Back (3.40)

Lingfield – Merry Jaunt (12.00), Elsie Bay (12.30), Faraaj (2.15), Ladiesareforever e/w (2.50) and Stasio (3.20)

Wetherby – Stormy Weather (12.10), Mr Moss (2.25) and Grey Soldier e/w (3.25)

Punchestown – Mount Benbulben (11.55), Tarquinius (12.25), Simenon (1.35), Bostons Angel (2.45) and Minsk (3.15)

Uttoxeter – Global Warming (12.55)


(Featured Photograph – Dynaste after his win at the Open by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Stasio on the gallops at Newmarket by Stuart Rice)