Gold Cup

Hill Handed Surprise Gold Cup Entry

Although he is officially rated around 35lbs behind the market principals, David Bridgewater’s recent Ascot winner, Wyck Hill, has been given a surprise entry into the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 16 and been introduced into the tips Cheltenham pages at 40/1, writes Elliot Slater.

Bridgwater already has a genuine contender for honours in the showcase three-and-a-quarter-mile contest in the shape of last year’s gallant runner-up, The Giant Bolster, and believes that Wyck Hill is a similarly progressive horse even though he still has plenty of improvement to find in order to be seriously considered.

Rated only 106 at the start of last term, the nine-year-old made good progress during that campaign, wining on his first two outings at Chepstow and Market Rasen before falling at the third at Newbury. He returned to the Berkshire track a few weeks later to run a solid second to the decent Penny Max but was then absent from racecourse duty for 11 months after meeting a setback in training.

Reappearing at Wetherby in November, the gelded son of Pierre made all the running over the stiff three miles at the ‘A1’ track to beat Fill The Power by half-a-length, and after being raised 13lbs to a new career high mark of 135 followed up at Ascot just before Christmas beating the progressive Katenko by four lengths.

Katenko’s subsequent nine-length victory in the valuable 32Red.com HBLB Handicap Chase at Sandown in early-January prompted his trainer, Venetia Williams, to enter him for the Gold Cup, and Bridgwater feels he would be unwise to exclude Wyck Hill now from that event so has also entered his charge who has been raised to a new mark of 140.

According to Betfair, his next immediate target could be in either the Racing Post Chase or the Sky Bet Chase, while a crack at the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree in April has not been ruled out either.