27th Apr 2012 | Horse Racing
A good quality field assembles for the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown (3.10) and it is difficult to find any angles on the horses established at the top of the market. The value is to be found lurking down the bottom, where Viking Blond stands out at 20/1 (Paddy Power).
On his bare form the seven-year-old looks outclassed in this field but I think he could be quite a lot better than he has shown. Stamina is Viking Blond’s real strength but on the two occasions he has gone beyond 3 miles, it’s all gone wrong. He fell at the first in the Grand National and was pulled-up in bottomless conditions in the Welsh National.
A fall at Aintree is easily excused, and the going at Chepstow was so deep, even proven soft ground horses struggled. It is worth remembering Viking Blond was actually favourite for the race, so there is ability lurking.
During the rest of the season he has been running over an inadequate trip but still performing with credit. He was only beaten 4.5 lengths into fourth, in an extremely hot novices’ chase back in November. The winner went onto contest the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival whilst the second and fifth placed horses have both won valuable handicaps since.
When asked about Viking Blond’s prospects, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies was quietly optimistic: “He fell at the first in the National so he didn’t race at all. He came back absolutely bouncing. The softer the ground, the better his chances. The handicapper hasn’t got hold of him as he probably has most of the others.”
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