Racing: Indicators point in direction of Malta

The former top jump jockey Steve Smith Eccles analyses today's Murphy's Gold Cup
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The Independent Online
Senor El Betrutti: The flying grey was well beaten on his reappearance at Wincanton but will come on for that. Must have a sound surface.

Simply Dashing: Ran a good third to the evergreen Strath Royal in the Charlie Hall Chase and sure to come on for the run. The drop in trip should also be an advantage.

Bertone: Would have an each-way chance if the ground came up fast but looks another also-ran.

Cyfor Malta: Winner of last season's Cathcart Chase at the Festival, the Martin Pipe-trained ante-post favourite will take all the beating - if he's fit enough to do himself justice.

Papillon: Irish raider whose trainer, Ted Walsh, will be praying for rain.

Mandys Mantino: Third in last season's Arkle Chase, so no mug. He will strip fitter for his seasonal bow at Ascot but steps up in trip here.

Potter's Bay: Faces a formidable task for his first outing of the campaign.

Hoh Warrior: Totally outclassed, he would do well to finish in the first six.

Pimberley Place: Refused to race on his seasonal debut and would not win this if he set off now.

Danger Baby: Has won a couple of chases already this season but this step up in class looks beyond him.

Dr Leunt: A live outsider who chased home Cyfor Malta in the Cathcart Chase. The ground was too fast for him at Stratford last time but the outing will have put him straight.

Philip's Woody: Good on his day but this old-timer is getting a bit long in the tooth.

Queen Of Spades: Well fancied but I don't give her a prayer. Her jumping is suspect and being a few pounds out of the handicap won't help.

Conclusion: CYFOR MALTA is a worthy favourite and should be fit enough despite rumours that Martin Pipe's training routine has been hindered by the laying of a new gallop. Martin is a past master at getting his horses spot on first time. I expect Mandys Mantino to run a big race if he gets the trip. Simply Dashing and Dr Leunt could fight it out for the minor places.

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