Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Astra Has the Power in Cup; Tanya Stevenson Channel 4's Betfair Lady

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Astra Has the Power in Cup; Tanya Stevenson Channel 4's Betfair Lady

Article excerpt

Byline: Tanya Stevenson

A HIGH?CLASS field of 20 talented chasers stand their ground for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

Crucially, 15 of the last 20 winners of this prestigious 2m 4f Grade 3 contest came from the first three in the betting.

Champion Court is a genuine course sat Cheltenham having won three times at the Gloucestershire venue.

Jonjo O'Neill landed the Paddy Power back in 2006 with Exotic Dancer and runs John's Spirit.

The six-year-old carries 18lb less than Champion Court and was an emphatic winner over course and distance in October.

However, winners of that race have a poor record in the Paddy Power and he is best watched.

The ex-French Ballynagour powered to victory on his British debut at Warwick in February.

However, he went on to flop in the Byrne Group Plate at the Festival and is still very high in the handicap.

Irish raiders have a terrible record in this race and this year's representatives Hidden Cyclone and Gift Of Dgab have never run at Prestbury Park.

Tap Night is the mount of AP McCoy but has shown his best form on flatter tracks.

Rajdhani Express landed the valuable novices' handicap chase at the Festival before thrashing Tap Night in a Grade 2 event at Ayr a month later.

Battle Group finished last season in terrific form but is at his best in the Spring and tends to struggle at Cheltenham.

ASTRACAD (2.30) is likely to go very well at an inviting price for Nigel Twiston-Davies.

The gelding began the season with a decent fifth to John's Spirit at Cheltenham before finishing second behind another of today's rivals Conquisto in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree last time out.

Astracad is now three pounds better off at the weights with both those rivals and could make all the running this afternoon.

Monbeg Dude landed last season's Murphy Group Handicap Chase en route to victory in the Coral Welsh National.

He was a solid third over 3m 2f at today's venue on his seasonal debut but needs softer ground. …

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