Capodanno Indicates Mullins’ Gold Cup Potential with Impressive Win at Cheltenham
In a show of strength, Capodanno emerged as the comfortable winner of the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham, showcasing Willie Mullins’ strong hand heading into the Gold Cup.
The race featured some tough competition from the British contingent, including smart novice Stay Away Fay. However, Capodanno was undeterred by his previous defeat to stablemate and current Gold Cup holder Galopin Des Champs at Christmas.
As The Real Whacker led the field halfway through the race, Ahoy Senor and defending champion of this event applied pressure on their inside. But soon enough, Stay Away Fay, Royale Pagaille, and eventually Capodanno (7-2) loomed menacingly. Approaching the second-last fence, all five contenders were almost neck-and-neck.
The Real Whacker faltered first while Stephen Mulqueen encountered tack trouble aboard Ahoy Senor. With Stay Away Fay falling behind pace, Capodanno surged ahead under jockey Paul Townend to secure a two-and-three-quarter-length victory over The Real Whacker.
Sadly though, there was a devastating postscript to this thrilling race as Coral Gold Cup winner Datsalrightgino suffered a fatal injury in an early fall.
“It was very straightforward and a small field. I was going to ride my horse to suit him and it worked out,” said Townend after his successful ride on Capodanno.
“He promised a performance like that. He showed as a novice he was going to be a force to be reckoned with but I don’t think we got the clearest of runs with him, but they seem to be able to train him now and keep going with him and I thought it was a good performance.”
“He had been doing everything well (at home) and he was very close to Gerri Colombe the last day and if Gerri Colombe would have been here, then he would have been very short (in the betting).”
“He was probably a bit overlooked but when people studied the race, they noticed that and he went off a lot shorter than he was in the middle of the week. He had to back up that Leopardstown run and he did today.”
Townend discussed Capodanno’s future plans, stating that his only entry for this year’s Cheltenham Festival is in the Ryanair Chase.
“He could drop back for the Ryanair, but ultimately that decision will rest with Willie Mullins, Frank Berry (racing manager for owner JP McManus), and JP’s team,” Townend revealed.
Patrick Mullins acknowledged Galopin Des Champs as Mullins’ superior horse; however, he expressed confidence in Capodanno’s potential.
Capodanno previously proved his ability by winning at Grade One level at Punchestown. The disappointing runs from last year should not overshadow his talent according to Mullins’ assistant trainer.
Neville Patrick, trainer of The Real Whacker commented on their great performance despite unfavorable ground conditions: “The ground would be a little bit deader than we would have liked, but [our horse] ran a great race amongst such top-class competition like Ahoy Senor and Capodanno. It’s great just to be here and compete with them,” Patrick Neville stated.
With the Gold Cup in sight, all eyes are now on Capodanno as he continues to impress racing enthusiasts. Will he have what it takes to outshine his stablemate Galopin Des Champs? Only time will tell.