WHO is the toughest National Hunt horse in training? Bobs Worth? Zarkandar? Overturn? Impossible to say really. But I think I’ve got the answer and he runs in Saturday’s Paddy Power Gold Cup. If there is a tougher jumper in the land than KUMBESHWAR then I haven’t seen him. This chap embodies everything I love about Jump racing. He is always there or thereabouts when the big races come around. He is a regular fixture at the Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown festivals and he always gives his best.
He has shrugged off a couple of horrific falls in the past 18 months and his bouncebackability is staggering. He runs more than most other Alan King horses because he just loves his racing and takes it very well. In addition, he is extremely good on his day.
Kumbeshwar is around 40/1 for the Paddy Power Gold Cup and I think that is both an insult to the horse and excellent each-way value. He is a hard horse to get fit and always needs at least one run, usually two, to reach prime condition. He goes into the Paddy Power with the two runs under his belt. Over course and distance at Cheltenham he showed up well before lack of fitness told behind Johns Spirit, who he reopposes on 12lb better terms. And then in the Haldon Gold Cup he was outpaced at a crucial stage but flying home to finish fourth, just behind Cue Card in third.
Wayne Hutchinson gets a nice tune out of Kumbeshwar and it will be interesting to see if he allows him to bowl along or holds him up, which he did at Exeter last time. Whatever, he will get my each-way money.
Nowadays Kumbeshwar clearly needs 2m 4f to show his best. He may even stay three miles in time. He may lack the class of ante-post market leaders Dynaste and Champion Court but what he lacks in class he makes up for in courage.
With doubts over Dynaste taking part, punters are seeking value elsewhere in the Paddy Power Gold Cup betting market. Both Champion Court and Nadiya De La Vega have been well backed this week. Also popular have been Ballynagour, Rajdhani Express, Salut Flo and former Champion Chase winner Finian’s Rainbow who will relish the likely good ground.
A class horse normally wins the Paddy Power: Very Promising, Half Free, Cyfor Malta and Exotic Dancer are such examples. This year Katenko is the fly in the ointment. He emerged as a Gold Cup dark horse after a couple of astonishing successes last winter before being sidelined with injury. If he takes part, he could win this en route to greater heights. But the forecast is dry for the rest of the week at Prestbury Park and Katenko may need softer ground, especially over this trip, which is short of his best.