There are still over six weeks to go until the Cheltenham Gold Cup but seldom in recent years has the race had so many talking points to discuss in the build-up. The main argument does of course remain who will actually win the race but before even that, Bryan Cooper faces perhaps the toughest decision of his relatively young career.
The retained jockey for Gigginstown Stud House, Bryan Cooper will have his pick of the Michael O'Leary horses in the Gold Cup which sounds like a brilliant position to be in but he has three options all with a real chance and he will be agonising over which horse to get the leg up on in March. Plenty of jockeys have made the wrong decision in the past and Cooper will be hoping he is not adding his name to that list.
Bookmakers Paddy Power have been quick out of the blocks with a market now live about which horse Cooper will ride in the big race and we thought we would assess his options.
Which Horse Will Bryan Cooper ride in the Gold Cup?
Don Poli - 4/7
Don Cossack - 5/4
Road to Riches - 14/1
All prices supplied by Paddy Power.com and were right at the time of writing.
We start with the the rock solid Don Poli who is trained by Willie Mullins and has been a winner at the Cheltenham Festival for the past two years. His RSA Chase success last year was a particularly impressive one with the Gold Cup in mind and Cooper has to consider this horse seriously on that basis.
Don Poli has won twice this season, including the Lexus Chase last time out, and although he hasn't been impressive on the eyes he continues to be very difficult to beat. Some have suggested that Don Poli is too slow to win a Gold Cup whilst others suggest he only ever just does enough and he will surely be staying on up the hill in the Gold Cup. Interesting.
The highest rated Chaser in training last season, Don Cossack is a class act and on his best form he would surely be right in the frame for the Gold Cup this season. His win at Aintree last season was a stunning one and if Cooper has that run in mind, he may well go with Cossack in the spring.
It is fair to say though that Don Cossack hasn't quite lived up to that billing so far this winter despite winning three times out of four. He fell two out in the King George when staying on and won a lowly race at Thurles recently over an inadequate trip. A real stayer, Don Cossack can race lazy but there is no doubt the talent is there which has to put him in the frame.
Road to Riches
Perhaps the forgotten horse of the three, Road To Riches is a very good horse and maybe Bryan Cooper will want to go with a horse who has already run well in a Gold Cup before?
The Noel Meade trained chaser has been campaigned lightly this season but we all remember him running a massive race last year in the Gold Cup when 3rd and that is form to be respected. Not many horses get beaten in a Gold Cup and then return to win the race the following year which is to be considered here and is factored into his price in this market but he is a very good horse.
Cooper is likely to be back on board Road To Riches this weekend in the Irish Gold Cup and a convincing win there for him, could well see his price for the Cheltenham Gold Cup slashed and in turn the price about Cooper riding him in March could also be cut significantly.