Youthful Spirit mature enough to take Power

 

There can come a time in a young chaser’s career when everything is in place for the first big win. For Johns Spirit, Jonjo O’Neill’s attractively weighted runner in this afternoon’s Paddy Power Gold Cup, the centrepiece of Cheltenham’s three-day Open Meeting, that time is now.

This progressive six-year-old first promised that he had what it takes for a race like this back in January when he chased home the highly regarded Katenko at Sandown. However, though essentially a very good jumper for one so young, the occasional clumsy lapse prevented him from gaining that breakthrough in the high-profile handicaps he contested in the spring.

Yet with another summer behind him and more practice at home, Johns Spirit looked much more like the finished article when reappearing at Cheltenham a month ago; jumping fluently, travelling smoothly throughout the race and brushing aside decent opposition when jockey Richie McLernon asked him to complete the job.

With time still very much on his side, Johns Spirit (2.30 Cheltenham) may be destined for much better things, but this huge prize would make a fine way to announce his arrival in the big time.

No horse in the 20-strong line-up will have more vocal support among a packed house than the locally trained course specialist Champion Court, the subject of a substantial gamble during the week.

Ballynagour, intriguingly representing David Pipe instead of the classy Dynaste (who would surely have started favourite), has also attracted significant market interest and must also be taken extremely seriously.

There was a time when punters hardly needed to glance at the runners and riders for this race; they simply backed whatever Martin Pipe was running. Between 1996 and 2005 Pipe’s runners obliged seven times. In all, the Pipes have won this race a record nine times, David with Great Endeavour in 2011.

Ballynagour could not have been more impressive when bolting up on his English debut at Warwick in February, but then finished tamely at the Cheltenham Festival (reportedly breaking a blood vessel) and is apparently not the most straightforward to train.

Another with a better chance than his odds imply is Carrickboy, who won the race Ballynagour flopped in at the Festival, springing a 50-1 shock. He is a big price again today (25-1 has been freely available all week) off his 8lb higher rating, but Venetia Williams’ bold-jumping nine-year-old ran well enough for long enough on his comeback at Aintree to suggest that he is no one-hit wonder.

Pipe should not leave Prestbury Park empty-handed. Goulanes (1.50 Cheltenham) won over hurdles at this corresponding fixture last year before making an even better impression over fences and is one to follow whenever stamina is at a premium. He can start off by landing the Murphy Group Handicap Chase.

Silver Eagle (3.00 Cheltenham) went close at the course last month and, with the form given a boost yesterday by the horse who beat him, Thomas Crapper, Kim Bailey’s grey makes plenty of appeal stepped back up to three miles in the Ultima Handicap Hurdle.

Paul Nicholls’ Port Melon (3.35 Cheltenham) looked a star in the making when winning two point-to-points last spring and does not appear to have a great deal to beat on his debut under rules in the Neptune Investments Novices’ Hurdle.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Engineers / Senior Electronics Engineers

£25000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in Henley-on-Thames, this...

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project