Racing: McCoy can make the difference

The former National Hunt jockey Steve Smith Eccles (right) makes a runner-by runner analysis of today's Murphy's Gold Cup.
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Dublin Flyer: It is 22 years since an 11-year-old won this but Captain Forster's grand campaigner holds a solid chance. Unlucky to slip when going well in last year's race, but I wonder if the old engine is still firing on all cylinders. He is 10lb better at Cheltenham than anywhere else.

Challenger Du Luc: Just 7lb higher than this time last year. Given the achievements of Strong Promise, who was second to him in the 1996 Murphy's, last year's winner looks leniently treated.

Sparky Gayle: A Festival winner in March, Sparky Gayle runs off just 10st 2lb and has every chance of emulating his Cathcart win. His fitness may be found out by what is certain to be a blistering pace on a testing track.

Bertone: Better than ever, defying a 6lb penalty by landing an Ascot handicap last time. With only 10st 1lb he can also play a leading role.

Senor El Betrutti: This spring-heeled grey has had two outings already this term, finishing a one-paced second to Simply Dashing at Wetherby last time. He could be involved in the minor placings.

Cherrynut: Always labouring before being pulled up at Wincanton last Saturday. Prone to mistakes and is likely to blunder again.

Destin D'Eestruval: Blundered five out in Callisoe Bay's race at Uttoxeter last Saturday. He was no match for Sparky Gayle in the Cathcart and has done nothing to suggest he can turn the tables.

Terao: A distant fourth behind Gales Cavalier and Mr Mulligan at Wincanton last time. If he was trained by anyone other than Martin Pipe, you could expect him to be open to improvement. But Martin always has his runners spot on first time.

Potter's Bay: Won at Cheltenham on his reappearance and is the choice of the Duke's stable jockey. Sure to win more races but is 16lb out of the handicap here.

Conclusion: If Sparky Gayle is fit he will take all the beating, but his fitness will be tested by Dublin Flyer. If there are chinks in his armour I expect Challenger Du Luc to come late on the scene and expose them. His pilot Tony McCoy could win on a rusty bicycle.