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Ladbrokes Gold Cup - Monmore 480M - £10,000

WOW! What else can you say about the second semi-final of the Ladbrokes Gold Cup (480m) at Monmore on Thursday (8.26pm), which brings together four first round heat winners, and that doesn’t include a dog that missed out on a place in this year’s Derby final by a head.

It’s without doubt one of the best races staged anywhere this year and says so much about the outstanding quality that has been attracted to this £10,000-to-the-winner competition.

Only two qualify from each semi-final for the decider on Thursday week which means there is no margin for error in a race where the dash to the bend could be crucial.

I’m siding with Droopys Buick. Jimmy Wright’s dog was marginally the fastest at the first round stage when scoring by seven lengths in 27.76sec (normal) and looks drawn in trap three to get a run to the turn.

William Hill Derby third Hiya Butt (trap two) was only three spots slower than Droopys Buick in the heats and shapes as the chief danger. There exists a slim chance that Hiya Butt, who has a tendency to dart to the rails, will be held-up by Southfield Jock (trap one) and, in this race of fine margins, that’s enough to make me believe Droopys Buick can prevail.

Lest we forget Making Paper (trap five), fifth in the Derby final in 2014, and a heat winner – abeit in 28.14sec – on Thursday. Diane Henry’s dog is bidding for his fourth straight win and posted a slick 27.86sec (calc.) over track and trip a couple of starts ago. He is strong and will pick up the pieces if there is trouble up front.

Swallows Ford (trap six) took the scalp of the talented Droopys Country in the first round, whilst Forest Bressie got more than his share of trouble when beaten just a length and three-parts by Making Paper at the opening stage.

It’s a race to savour and I take Droopys Buick to come out on top.

The first semi-final at 8.11pm is a real headscratcher. My first instinct is to side with Oscar Whisky (trap two). I thought Charlie Lister’s dog made up a lot of ground at the first round stage in the heat won by California (trap six). He even relegated a dog of the quality of Clondoty Alex (trap one) into third in the latter stages.

But my eyes are drawn to Jaytee Spartacus (trap four). Paul Young’s dog could come on for what was a cracking first round effort given that he had travelled to Dublin and back for a trial at Shelbourne Park four days earlier. There is little doubt that journey will have taken something out of Jaytee Spartacus. He is capable of improving and could come on enough to prevail here.

I’ve been a huge fan of Carlos Count for quite a while and trainer Derek Deakin has done really well to bring him back from injury sustained towards the end of last year.

Carlos Count (trap five) has won two from three since his return from the treatment table, including in the first round of this competition, and from trap five in the third semi-final at 8.41pm he may just have the scope required to defeat Droopys Country (trap six).

The latter was surprising caught – by Swallows Ford - after leading in the first round but we know Jimmy Wright’s runner is better than that and in the black and white jacket he must come into the reckoning if again getting away to a slick start.

Ladbrokes Gold Cup Semi-Finals – Thursday, August 11 2016

First Semi-Final

1 Clondoty Alex (Best Time over C & D): 28.03sec

2 Oscar Whisky (Best Time over C & D): 28.16sec

3 Fred The Shred (Best Time over C & D): 28.17sec

4 Jaytee Spartacus (Best Time over C & D): 28.20sec

5 California (w) (Best Time over C & D): 28.08sec

6 Laughing Gravy (w) (Best Time over C & D): 28.28sec

 Second Semi-Final

1 Southfield Jock (Best Time over C & D): 27.94sec

2 Hiya Butt (Best Time over C & D): 27.79sec

3 Droopys Buick (Best Time over C & D): 27.76sec

4 Forest Bressie (Best Time over C & D): 28.15sec

5 Making Paper (m) (Best Time over C & D)27.86sec

6 Sallows Ford (w) (Best Time over C & D): 28.14sec


Third Semi-Final

1 Thirteen Bags (Best Time over C & D): 28.23sec

2 Roswell Iceman (Best Time over C & D): 28.02sec

3 Droopys Turin (Best Time over C & D): 28.26sec

4 Bramble Mackem (m) (Best Time over C & D): 28.41sec

5 Carlos Court (w) (Best Time over C & D): 28.13sec

6 Droopys Country (w) (Best Time over C & D): 28.02sec