The feature race on a tremendous card at Ascot on Saturday is the Grade 3 Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase (15:20), and Vinndication looks worth siding with at 11/2 with William Hill to land a red-hot renewal of the 3m contest.
This Kim Bailey trained six-year-old was unbeaten in six starts and looked a very exciting prospect who was capable of going right to the very top.
After landing a Ludlow bumper on debut under Rules in November 2017, the son of Vinnie Roe made a most taking hurdling bow over 2m 4f at Leicester when a 4 1/2 lengths winner over Coolanly.
Vinndication then followed-up in game fashion in a six-runner contest at this venue when staying on strongly to beat Champ by a neck.
The runner-up, to whom he was conceding 6lb, is a hugely talented sort who has won five of his six starts since – including two Grade 1s.
Vinndication went on to round off the campaign with a smooth a 3 1/4 lengths success over Western Ryder in a Listed contest at Huntingdon and took really well to the larger obstacles in winning both his starts at the beginning of last season.
Strong form and yard going well
After scoring in game fashion at Carlisle when jumping well and finding plenty to beat Uncle Alistair by two lengths, he took the step up into Grade 2 company in his stride when comfortably bearing Jerrysback in the Noel Novices’ Chase here when again putting in a fine round.
Vinndication then lost little in defeat when third to Defi Du Seuil in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles at Sandown and was also far from disgraced when fifth behind that rival in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
The form of those races is strong and suggest he should be up to winning races off his current mark of 151.
Vinndication also starts off this campaign having had a wind-op and has a good record fresh.
Other pluses are he’s two from two at the track, and hails from a yard that is in fine form and operating at a strike rate of 30 per cent in the last 14 days at the time of writing.
So, taking everything into account, there is simply nothing not to like about the chances of Vinndication in the Sodexo Gold Cup this year.
Mister Malarky feared most
In a race in which a case can be made for most of the 19 runners, the Colin Tizzard trained Mister Malarky appeals as the type that has more to offer and thus rates the main danger to Vinndication.
This six-year-old, who can be backed at 8/1 with Paddy Power, progressed throughout last season when winning three of his six starts and posting some solid efforts in defeat.
In the last of those successes, he stayed on dourly to beat Now McGinty by 1 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase over this course and distance.
Connections then pitched Mister Malarky into the Grade 1 RSA at the Cheltenham Festival and he was far from disgraced in finishing a keeping on 18 1/4 lengths fourth of 12 to Topofthegame in what looked a very strong renewal of the 3m contest.
The son of Malinas then went on to round off the campaign with a fine five-length second of 18 to the well-treated Kildisart in a Grade 3 handicap chase at the Aintree Grand National Festival off a mark of 147.
A 3lb rise in the weights for that looks more than fair. Mister Malarky has his optimum conditions and won first time up last season – so fitness is unlikely to be an issue.
There are undoubtedly plenty of more races to be won with him and a bold bid to land a fifth career success under Tom Scudamore looks assured.
Go Conquer each-way value in Sodexo Gold Cup
Of those at bigger odds, Go Conquer looks the each-way play in the race – given that he goes well fresh and hails from a yard that has made a good start to the new season.
This Nigel Twiston-Davies trained 10-year-old ran very well in this 12 months ago when sent off the heavily-backed 11/4 favourite and finishing a 5 1/2 lengths third of nine to Traffic Fluide.
Go Conquer backed that up with a solid second to O O Seven at Doncaster, before romping to a six-length success in a Listed contest at the same venue when making all and jumping soundly to beat Monbeg Rover by six lengths off a mark of 151.
The son of Arcaio got put up to a rating of 157 for that very taking success, but failed two fire in two subsequent starts at Aintree and Sandown – being pulled-up on each occasion.
However, Go Conquer is now able to race off a reduced rating of 155 as a result. That should not be beyond him, judged on the manner of his aforementioned success at Doncaster.
His form figures on return to action in the last three seasons read 2213, so first time out may well be the time to catch him.
Tom Bellamy, who has won once and been placed once on him from two rides, is also now back in the plate and underfoot conditions are ideal.
So at 12/1 with BetVictor, who are paying five places, Go Conquer looks decent value to hit the frame at the very least in the Sodexo Gold Cup again.