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Coral Cup

The Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (2:40pm) is a Class A Grade 3 handicap hurdle race run over two miles and five furlongs. It is open to horses aged 5 years old and upwards.

The total prize fund for 2015 is £80,000 and the race will be run on Wednesday, March 11.

Recent Winners

The Coral Cup is first of the big handicap hurdles run at the meeting and is, therefore, a huge betting heat. A well-handicapped horse is essential and it often pays to wait until the day of the race to see where the money is going before finalising a selection.

Having said that, only one favourite has been successful in recent years (Xenophon was backed down from long odds to 4/1F in 2003) and in that time some monster gambles have been foiled by relatively unconsidered outsiders. Even the 2012 16/1 winner, Son Of Flicka, was heavily punted in from a morning-line price of 66/1.

2014        Whisper
2013 Medinas
2012 Son Of Flicka
2011 Carlito Brigante
2010 Spirit River
2009 Ninetieth Minute
2008 Naiad Du Misselot
2007 Burntoakboy
2006 Sky´s The Limit
2005 Idole First
2004 Monkerhostin
2003 Xenophon
2002 Ilnamar
2000 What’s Up Boys
1999 Khayrawani
1998 Top Cees
1997 Big Strand
1996 Trainglot
1995 Chance Coffey
1994 Time For A Run
1993 Olympian

2012 Coral Cup Review

A typically competitive renewal with 28 runners going to post, but in the end there was a fairly comfortable success for Son Of Flicka (16/1), who had attracted plenty of each-way money on the day of the race.

The Donald McCain-trained eight-year-old was always close up with the pace and having led early, took it up again approaching the last, before staying on well to beat perennial Cheltenham bridesmaid Get Me Out Of Here (6/1jf) by three and a half lengths.
Nicky Henderson's Spirit River looked like he would get involved turning in and he was fourth and staying on when crashing out at the last, leaving his stablemate Veiled (25/1) to grab third, with Irish raider Silverhand (25/1) close behind in fourth.

2011 Coral Cup Review

It was another success for the Irish in the 2011 Coral Cup and Gordon Elliot's Carlito Brigante powered to victory in a competitive looking renewal of the race.

It was Elliot's second winner of the day after he saddled Chicago Grey to glory in the opener and the five-year-old was partnered to glory by leading jockey Davy Russell.

The 2010 Triumph Hurdle fourth beat Bothy by six lengths and made it a fantastic day for owners, the Gigginstown Trust.

2010 Coral Cup Review

Another fiercely competitive running of the Coral Cup, with the whole field running off their proper handicap marks, was landed by one of the most progressive horses in the line up, and SPIRIT RIVER now looks very much a horse to follow.

The winner was unlucky last time out in the totesport Trophy, but connections didnt have to wait long for compensation and having travelled well just behind the leaders for much of the race he ran on strongly up the hill to quickly put the race to bed. Having appeared to find further improvement for this step up in trip he looks set to have a bright future over fences.

Tullamore Dew ran much his best race for some considerable time to clinch second. He clearly relished this better ground as well as the end to end gallop. He may also switch to the larger obstacles next season.

James De Vassy (third) has been a model of consistency recently and, being lightly raced like the winner, should have more improvement in him.

Michael Flips made most of the running and, having been headed two out, did well to hold on to fourth. Hes another chasing type.

The winners stablemate Quantitativeeasing ran in this rather than against novices in the Neptune and acquitted himself well on his handicap debut, but could not quicken up from the penultimate flight.

Naiad Du Misselot hasnt won since taking this contest two years ago, but he seemed to enjoy a return to the smaller obstacles here, although the ground was probably a bit lively for him.

Racing Demon (eighth) has also been reinvigorated by a switch back to hurdles, whilst Mamlook (tenth) ran well but again failed to show his very best form here.

Others to bear in mind for the future are On Raglan Road, who has been off the track for a long time and is sure to come on for this run, and Wishfull Thinking, who was travelling as well as anything bar the winner when crashing out at the second last. Compensation surely awaits.

2009 Coral Cup Review

An even tougher race than usual to assess, with half the field force to run out of the handicap thanks to Lough Derg’s presence in the line up.

Despite the huge field, only a handful were in with a chance of winning by the time the leaders turned for home. That was the point in the contest that NINETIETH MINUTE first took up the running and despite being hard pressed all the way to the line, he stayed on gamely to record the biggest win of his career to date. This was a game effort and he may jump a fence in time. At six years old, he is clearly still open to further improvement.

Mirage Dore was never nearer than at the finish. He was possibly left with too much today, but seldom runs a bad race and seems to enjoy this track.

Pause And Clause could never quite get to the winner either. He is lightly raced and his future definitely lies over the larger obstacles. He looks an exciting prospect.

Star Of Angels put up his best effort over hurdles to date to fill the placings in fourth. He too is lightly raced and was entitled to find this competitive handicap a struggle given his inexperience. Clearly, though, he relished the challenge and will now surely be aimed at similar races in the future.

Kawagino seems to have been running at the Festival forever, but is still only nine. He loves fast run races and large fields, but never seems to be able to quite get his head in front.

Copsdale Lad (seventh) ran well for a long way, leading the field from the third until three out. He is twelve now, however, and so the chance of a big race win, either over hurdles or fences, has surely passed him by.

Dancing Tornando looks a tricky ride and could prove hard to win with. He often travels well in his race and finishes them off well, but never seems to be in the right position when the race starts in earnest. He remains one to be wary of.

The Polomoche (tenth) and Psycho (thirteenth) both travelled well for much of the race, but could never really get competitive. The former, in particular, wasn’t given a hard time when his chance was gone and is better than the bare form of this result suggests. Maybe a switch to fences will finally see him realise his huge potential and lofty reputation.

2008 Coral Cup Review

The switch to the New course meant that, like the Ballymore, this race was run over half a furlong shorter than it would normally have been, which should have led to it being a slightly lesser test of stamina than usual. However, to some extent this was negated by the free running Baltiman who set a fierce gallop until finally fading as the leaders turned for home.

At that point, the race appeared to be between Junior and Song Of Songs, but as is so often the case in these ultra competitive handicaps the result was in doubt right the way to the line. Indeed, the eventual winner, NAIAD DU MISSELOT carved out his own small piece of Festival history by being the first horse to win a race at the great meeting by an official nose.

The stiff uphill test seemed to suit this horse as he stayed on dourly up the hill to see off all challengers. Lightly raced and suited by plenty of give in the ground, he could be a force in the top staying novice chases next season.

Kicks For Free was just one of a number of late closers to almost get to the winner. He came from a mile back jumping the second last and can, therefore, be viewed as slightly unlucky. Carrying the welter burden of 11st 12lbs, this was another fine effort from a very talented horse who should also be worth following when switched to the larger obstacles next year.

Junior is a quirky sort and probably hit the front too soon here as he appeared to idle on the run in and throw away a winning opportunity. He is still a novice and that suggests he is harder to win with than he should be given his natural talent.

Mendo was another of those to come from the clouds to challenge after the last. He seems to save his best for this track.

Song Of Songs eventually faded to finish seventh. He was undoubtedly travelling best of all approaching the final flight, but his stamina gave way on the climb to the line and the rain softened ground was partly to blame. He remains capable of winning a big race when he has conditions to suit.

Peacock was the other one to note. He stayed on nicely from the back without being given a hard time by his jockey once it was clear he was never going to get to the leaders.

2007 Coral Cup Review

An amazing season for rookie trainer Richard Newland got even better as BURNTOAKBOY ran out a relatively comfortable winner of this fiercely competitive handicap.

It was Dr Newland’s first Festival runner and half his string of just four horses will be in action over these four days (Overstrand runs in the World Hurdle on Thursday).

The horse took 30 attempts to lose his maiden tag but since he’s joined his new trainer he had improved leaps and bounds, and even a nine pound rise for his win last time out at Leicester wasn’t enough to stop him here.

The horse jumped his way to the front three out and was never in danger thereafter. If anything, he idled on the run in and was value for more than the official winning margin of three lengths.

It was also a first Festival success for his promising young jockey, Sam Jones.

Powerstation ran on strongly to be second. He was well clear of the third, but possible needs a tougher test of stamina / a stronger pace to be at his most effective. He was second to Black Jack Ketchum in last year’s Brit Insurance Hurdle and so clearly acts well around this track.

Another Irish raider, Baron De Feypo finished third for his flamboyant trainer, Patrick O Brady, who celebrated like he had trained the winner of the Gold Cup!

The well backed Oscatello was fourth, giving further evidence that the switch of stables to Phillip Hobbs has rekindled his enthusiasm for the game. He was another to stay on well from off the pace, as was Mister Height who travelled particularly well for much of the way. He was obviously ridden to get the trip, but perhaps the tactics were too conservative in the end and a more forceful ride might have seen him run into a place at least. A mistake at the top of the hill didn’t help him either in his efforts to make up ground on the leaders, but he is definitely worth another go at this trip.

2006 Coral Cup Review

SKY’S THE LIMIT defied top weight of 11st 12lb, as well as the history books, to become the first five year old winner of the Coral Cup.

Beforehand, this looked like one of the most competitive hurdle races to be run at the meeting for many years, with just 15lbs separating the thirty runners. However, the winner made a mockery of the handicap to cruise home without jockey Barry Geraghty having to ask him a serious question.

Although the relatively slow early pace probably suited the winner who has an excellent turn of foot, the manner of the victory suggests that he is very well named as he surely has the ability to contest the very best staying races next season. He’ll also make a chaser in time.

Trainer, Edward O’Grady’s runners at the Festival always command the utmost respect and this one had clearly been laid out for the race. It was owner Ray Rooney’s first Festival runner since Golden Cygnet was trained by O’Grady to win the 1978 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Strangely Brown made it a one – two for Ireland and proved again that top class juvenile hurdlers often improve for a step up in trip in their second season. He also seems to be at his best in the spring.

Dom d’Orgeval ran a cracker in third and continues to defy the handicapper. He has had a tremendous season and is a credit to his connections. Softer ground suits, and he may be switched to fences next season.

Phar Bleu was also a top juvenile hurdler and this was a fine first effort after a recent wind operation. Given that he has been switched to Paul Nicholls’ yard there is every reason to suggest he too will go chasing in the near future.

Inch Pride ran much better than her stable companions have this week and looks like she is coming back to form, but the hard luck story of the race was undoubtedly All Star who was closing on the heels of the leaders when running out at the second last. He would otherwise have been placed.

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