Horse Racing: Jason Hall on how Sussex trainers have fared at Cheltenham

The Cheltenham Gold Cup will take place this afternoon and the 11-strong field features a number of rising stars who are looking to establish themselves as the new leaders of the staying chase division. The current favourite, Bobs Worth, falls into that category and has won twice previously at the Cheltenham Festival, as a novice in both the hurdling and chase divisions.

After a dominant display to win the prestigious Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury earlier this season, he has been kept fresh for this race by his mercurial trainer Nicky Henderson and many respected experts believe the eight-year-old has all the attributes that will potentially make him the new champion in a category that is desperate for a quality individual to match the spectacular achievements of true recent champions Kauto Star and Denman.

Henderson believes that Bobs Worth is best fresh and is confident that his absence since November will not hinder his chance. Personally, I hope he can progress and fulfil the expectations of many, although the valid credentials of others such as former champion Long Run, the Irish challenger Sire De Champs and the progressive Silviniaco Conti suggest that at the current price he represents little value to the punter. With that thought in mind,

I would suggest an each way interest on the Phillip Hobbs trained Captain Chris. He will benefit hugely from the better ground that now seems likely to prevail and if he gets the trip should feature toward the business end of this magnificent race. On the opening day of the Festival, Sussex trainers Nick Gifford and Gary Moore were delighted with the fourth and fifth place finishes of their individual runners in the three-mile handicap chase. Gifford’s Tullamore Dew finished a place in front of the Moore-trained Fruity O’Rooney, with both horses bravely staying on up the stiff climb to the finish and collecting decent money for their connections.

I fully expect Gifford to be collecting more prize money if Specialagent Alfie takes up his entry today at Fakenham, but soft ground may stop him from going.