Hennessy Gold Cup winner Diamond Harry, as short as 7/1 for the forthcoming Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 18, has failed to please trainer Nick Williams in recent weeks and connections fear he might not be at his best in the feature race on the fourth and final day of the National Hunt extravaganza.
Not for the first time in the horse’s career, Williams has noted that the eight-year-old seems to be a shade lethargic at this time of year, and whilst he is perfectly healthy, Williams fears that Diamond Harry might just be a horse who shows his best form in the autumn and not in the spring. Despite reservations that he might not run to his absolute best mark, Williams insists that at this stage there are no plans to withdraw owner Paul Kelly’s charge from the championship contest and he is an intended runner and the Cheltenham 2011 betting predictions still suggest he should do well.
Looking at Diamond Harry’s record there is no doubt that he has always run well in the autumn, but it would be hard to say that his effort in finishing a fine third to Mikael d’Haguenet in the Ballymore Properties Hurdle at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival was a poor run. Certainly his run last year when pulled up in the RSA Chase was a below-par effort, but it could well be explained by the fact that he had had a run a month from November of that season up to taking his chance in the three-mile novice chase event and might have been ‘over the top’ for the term and those looking to bet on Cheltenham racing may want to remember this.
Betting firms appear not to buy into Williams’ assessment with no-one pushing the horse out in the market and a couple of firms even shortening him up to 7/1 following the trainer’s remarks! Let’s hope that Williams is just looking at the glass half empty instead of half full and that his stable star perks up sufficiently to do himself justice in what is shaping up to be a tremendous Gold Cup.