Cheltenham: Indian Castle can shake off rust to find winning form

Six-year-old makes comeback in Paddy Power Gold Cup after 247-days haitus

Trainer David Pipe has lots of faith in Kings Palance. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Indian Castle neatly fits the bill for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

The Ian Williams-trained six-year-old has rather gone unnoticed in the build-up to the Grade Three handicap, but it would a dangerous game to dismiss his claims.

Despite having not had a run for 247 days, that should not be considered an issue as he is a horse that tends to go well when fresh. He also has Cheltenham-winning form.

His victory in a novice handicap chase last January, when trained by Donald McCain, was particularly noteworthy as he convincingly defeated Annacotty, who had previously won the Grade One Feltham by 10 lengths.


The Beneficial gelding would also have been a lot shorter in the betting for the Paddy Power had he not ruined his chance of victory in the Kim Muir when he clouted the last fence, eventually finishing seventh as the 7-2 favourite.

Now with the capable Williams, the Worcestershire handler has no reason whatsoever to not have Indian Castle on top of his form for one of the biggest handicaps of the season, even in spite of his lengthy hiatus.

A perceived lack of experience should not be a problem as the last 10 winners had all raced less than 10 times over fences, while a lovely weight of 10st 8lb can be exploited.

Kings Palace’s fencing bow in the Cheltenham Club Novices’ Chase is keenly anticipated. David Pipe’s six-year-old went places in a bit of hurry over hurdles — winning three on the spin, including two at Cheltenham — to earn a mark of 146. Things, however, went awry when he fell at the last in the Albert Bartlett at the festival.

That was an especially curious display as he travelled like a dream for most of the race before the tank suddenly emptied two out.

Pipe has, however, continually insisted that Kings Palace was always going to be a better chaser, with this perfect-looking race no doubt a long-held ambition.

Shine through

He is up against a clutch of horses with previous winning experience over fences, but in receipt of weight from much of the field, his class can shine through.

Cesarewitch-winner Big Easy holds a great chance in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Hurdle.

Suitably inspired by his exploits on the Flat at Newmarket last month, the Terry Warner-owned seven-year-old will be making just his third outing over hurdles since he defeated Destroyer Deployed by half a length on the same track last April.

There’s solid Flat racing at Lingfield, too, where Intransigent should be considered for the Unibet Golden Rose Stakes.

The five-year-old gelding, trained by Andrew Balding, must give away weight to all of his rivals, but he is a good horse on his day — as illustrated by a Listed success at Chester in the summer and his Challenge Cup victory at Ascot in October.