Another day for us to ponder the wise words of Phil Bull, the founder of Timeform and subject of Howard Wright’s excellent biography. Among his many pithy aphorisms, his description of sport as our “magnificent triviality”, captures exactly why we treasure it so much. In the context of everything of significance that is going on around us, it is gloriously irrelevant but an opportunity to play should always be eagerly embraced simply for the sake of joy and sanity.
Our man in the cheese-cutter cap, Marcus Armytage, thinks Clan Des Obeaux, the fast-rising star of the steeplechasing ranks, can win the Gold Cup today and provide a resurgent Paul Nicholls with a fifth to go with those won by See More Business in 1999, Denman and dual victor Kauto Star from 2007-09. Marlborough, by contrast, has gone for Presenting Percy, the favourite. “He may have had an unconventional preparation – one run over hurdles since winning the RSA Chase easily here a year ago,” our tipster writes, “But he is a far from typical horse. He has class, a good cruising speed and possesses both tactical speed and stamina.”
We also have the Triumph Hurdle – won in the past by Farclas, Defi Du Seuil and Tiger Roll, the last two of whom won here this year on Tuesday and Wednesday – in which Sir Erec is the odds-on favourite and the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle which was won by Penhill in 2017 and he went on to win the Stayers’ in 2018. It’s a terrific race for scoping out horses who could prosper over a longer trip. Let’s begin with the Clerk of the Course’s report: