Andy Gibson big race review: Fallout from the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury
The Big Bite
This is the first time The Big Bite has competed on good ground since he ran Funambule Sivola close at Doncaster in late January 2022. He has been dropped by the handicapper very quickly presumably, in part, due to him being a ten-year-old, and consequently he remains particularly well in off a mark of 139, even after being raised for this success. He should have won this race with something to spare two years ago but he threw the race away by hanging badly left after the final fence. He was competing off 146 on that occasion and just 135 here, and perhaps it was equally important that he was wearing first-time cheek-pieces here. His form on good ground is significantly better than when competing with cut and his new mark should not prevent him from being competitive again in a decent spring handicap chase run on good going over an intermediate trip.
I would suggest that Gemirande was beaten by an extremely well-handicapped horse that was running in his optimum conditions. He may well have improved again from his Wetherby success and, until he shows something to the contrary, I would prefer to view him as an uncomplicated, reliable front running and progressive chaser.
Paint The Dream
Paint The Dream is something of a Newbury specialist, which probably adds something to the performances of the front two horses who drew well clear of the rest. Clearly, he was giving a lot of weight away to both The Big Bite and Gemirande, but nevertheless, he is borderline Grade Two standard on his day and had plenty in his favour here.
Zanza is another Newbury specialist to add weight to the quality of this form. After jumping poorly and appearing likely to be tailed off, he did make up a tremendous amount of ground from two out to the line to almost join the third-placed horse at the line. Although this fourth-place finish has put rather a dent in his previous course record, at the same time, he was facing a very difficult task in competing off 158 and lumping top weight around, conceding the best part of two stone to the first and second horses to finish.
Espoir De Guye
I think Espoir De Guye showed enough here to suggest that he will be a real force when he is able to compete on a softer surface. This was his first start for the Paul Nicholls yard, and it was a particularly encouraging effort on ground much faster than ideal. He made a promising move off the home turn which only began to peter out before the second last fence, after which point he was considerately handled when beaten and he looks a very interesting short-term prospect. The handicapper appears to have overreacted by dropping him four pounds to a mark of 140, which is another major point in his favour for the next time he competes on soft going.
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