Coneygree has been backed to win the Punchestown Gold Cup despite not running since November and only racing twice since winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015. The horse is a relentless jumper and galloper and can beat Sizing John and Djakadam to win the Punchestown version of the Gold Cup.
Sizing John won the Blue Riband of chasing at Cheltenham where Djakadam was fourth, more than three lengths off the pace of the winner. Coneygree won the 2015 renewal but finished just one and a half lengths ahead of Djakadam.
In theory, Sizing John is the best horse in Wednesday’s race but the collateral form is not an exact science. Djakadam looked the likely winner of the Gold Cup for most of the race but a mistake two out was crucial and handed the initiative to Sizing John.
The winner put in an impeccable round of jumping but the value of the form is questionable when you consider that Minella Rocco finished in second place just almost three lengths adrift.
Outlander was hampered three fences out at Cheltenham and was eased down to be well beaten. The horse won the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas when Djakadam was more than two lengths behind in third place. Outlander can get in the mix at Punchestown but Coneygree should be too good.
There is never a poor Gold Cup but the 2017 version was not quite as high class as the previous two runnings. Djakadam was second in 2016 when four and a half lengths behind Don Cossack who has been retired due to injury.
Djakadam has now been in the shake-up in the last three Gold Cups without winning the race. The three miles two furlongs trip is just beyond his stamina limits and the chance of winning the Gold Cup looks gone with so many horses better suited to the race likely to be around for a few years.
Thistlecrack will have a say if fit next year, Sizing John is young enough to run in the race at least three more times and Coneygree is still only ten. It looks like Djakadam will have to be content with trying to win a Gold Cup at Punchestown and not the biggest one at Cheltenham.
The track is more suitable and the race is one and a half furlongs shorter and that means the limit of Djakadam’s stamina won’t be reached at Punchestown. However, even if Djakadam reverses Cheltenham form with Sizing John Coneygree can be a fly in the ointment.
In winning the 2015 Gold Cup the horse was the first successful novice for 40 years. Connections are meticulous in their preparations so the lack of fitness won’t be an issue despite just two runs in more than two years.
Coneygree put in a superb effort in winning the 2015 Gold Cup and that level of form could be good enough for the horse to win the Punchestown Gold Cup this year.
Tip: Coneygree to win the Punchestown Gold Cup at 5/1 with bet365.