Caspian Caviar (December) Gold Cup

Caspian Caviar December Gold Cup 20f 166yds Cheltenham Saturday.

The December Gold Cup was first run in 1963, under the sponsorship of Massey Ferguson, and two of steeplechasing’s greats, Flying Bolt and Pendil, won it in its early years carrying the mind boggling weights of 12st 6lbs, and 12st 7lbs respectively. Happily such eye watering imposts are now a thing of the past and the top weight on Saturday will be asked to shoulder a mere 11st12lbs. Its worth noting that weight hasn’t been a bar to success in recent years with the winner of five of the last eight renewals carrying north of 11st. Indeed the Paul Nicholls-trained Poquelin won consecutive runnings in 2009 and 2010 with 11st8lbs and 11st9lbs on his back. The Ditcheat handler also trained the 4yo Unioniste to win in 2012, so his three candidates this year, Sound Investment, Salubrious, and Art Mauresque, are certainly worth considering.

Sound Investment, who carries top weight, and is the choice of stable jockey, Twiston-Davies, ran a great race in the “Paddy Power” where carrying the maximum burden, he finished third, 1 1/4L behind the winner, and Saturday’s opponent, the Alan King trained, Annacotty. The Nicholls 7yo had impressed in his previous race, a Gd2 Cl1 handicap off a mark of 155 at Aintree, and having demonstrated his ability to safely negotiate the vagaries of Prestbury Park last time, he must, on 4lbs better terms have serious prospects of reversing the form with the King horse at the weekend.

The 8yo Salubrious was having only his second run over the larger obstacles when taking a Cl2 3ml Carlisle chase four weeks ago. It was his first outing for 13 months, so further progress can be expected, but considering seven of the last ten winners had run at least six times over fences, he is likely to prove too inexperienced for Saturday’s test.

Of more interest is the Nicholl’s third string, Art Mauresque. This 5yo, ex French gelding has won four of his seven starts over the larger obstacles, including two victories over Kempton’s tricky fences, and quite impressively, here at Cheltenham in October. He was a tad disappointing in the “Paddy Power” when finishing 6th but may have had a little too much use made of him. Given a more conservative ride it is not hard to envisage him being involved at the weekend, and it will come as no surprise if he finishes the season on a considerably higher mark than his current 147.

Only three horses, Pegwell Bay, Senor El Betrutti, and Exotic Dancer have managed to win both the Paddy Power, and this in the same season, so racing off a 5lbs higher mark than last month, it looks a tall order for Annacotty to join this select band. However his excellent trainer, who is carrying all before him this season, is quite bullish, and reports the horse to be in fine fettle, so he can’t easily be dismissed.

Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson combined to win this with Monkerhostin in 2004 and have prospects of a repeat this year with the talented 7yo Champagne West. He is a winner of two of his four starts over fences, both here at Cheltenham, and he also ran well in the Dipper Chase, again at the course last January, finishing second to Ptit Zig. He sustained a minor injury in his next race when joint favourite for a Gd1 novices chase at Sandown and was retired for the season. He looks nicely handicapped off a mark of 150 giving him a racing weight of 11st and the only reservation would be his lack of a recent outing. However he did win after an eight month break last year and coming from this yard is unlikely to fail for lack of fitness.

Evan Williams’s 8yo Buywise has been a frustrating animal around Cheltenham. He did manage to win a handicap here in April 2014, but usually, due to poor jumping, gets himself well behind and seemingly out of contention, only to come up the hill like the proverbial train and manages to grab a place. It was a similar story last time in the Paddy Power when finishing second to Annacotty off a mark of 148. One day hopefully he will get everything right, but raised another 4lbs for coming second he has it all to do.

Rebecca Curtis’s 6yo Irish Cavalier won a handicap at the festival over course and distance off a mark of 137, and comfortably defied a mark of 151 at Newton Abbot in October. He was a well backed 8/1 chance for the Paddy Power off a 5lbs higher mark and came to the third last looking the most likely winner. He took it up at the penultimate fence but was headed after the last and with nothing more to give finished fifth. It may well be that he got there too soon, and if held onto for longer, may do better on Saturday. However the stable remains in poor form, and with “fodder” problems reported, he is one to treat with caution.

Selection: Champagne West.

E.W: Sound Investment.

Caspian Caviar December Gold Cup 20f 166yds Cheltenham Saturday.


Horseracing Betting Tips Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Cheltenham

From four course appearances the Malcolm Jefferson trained Attaglance has won once and been placed twice, so is of considerable interest.

From four course appearances the Malcolm Jefferson trained Attaglance has won once and been placed twice, so is of considerable interest.

Originally known as The Massey Ferguson Gold Cup. It was first run in 1963, and without doubt, it’s most famous winner was the awesome Flyingbolt, who won in 1965. Trained by the legendary Tom Dreaper, and ridden by Pat Taffe, and giving away at least 25lbs, to a field of top class handicappers, he annihilated the field, strolling home by 15L from Solbina with Scottish Memories third. As Scottish Memories had previously run the mighty Arkle close ( albeit receiving lumps of weight ) Flyingbolt ended the season rated within 1lb of the legend. While there is no Flyingbolt running on Saturday it has the look of a very competitive affair.

The Paul Nicholls trained Caid Du Berlais heads the market at 4/1. The 5yo Westerner gelding was something of a revelation, when under an inspired ride from Sam Twiston-Davies, he got up in the final strides to land the Paddy Power Gold Cup three weeks ago, beating Johns Spirit a hd. Racing there off a mark of 143 he was receiving 13lbs from the runner up who has declined a rematch, in favour of the King George V1 on Boxing Day. While the Paddy Power was a slowly run race on soft ground, and Saturday’s conditions promise to be quite different, Caid Du Berlais does look well treated off 148. He acheived a hurdles rating of 151, and may well be even better suited by Saturday’s likely conditions, so one for the short list.

From four course appearances the Malcolm Jefferson trained Attaglance has won once and been placed twice, so is of considerable interest. In last years Paddy Power, despite blundering at the last, he was a fine 4th to Johns Spirit receiving 2lbs, and further emphasised his affinity for the course when a very unlucky 2nd at the festival in March to Present View. Indeed a reproduction of that run would give him a great chance on Saturday.

David Bridgewater, with some justification, is very bullish about the chances of his young chaser No Buts. Already a much better chaser than hurdler he made his reappearance at Sandown at the beginning of November. In an intriguing race he finished 4th to the Nicholls horse Sound Investment, ( for whom there has been some support for Saturday ) with the Evan Williams trained Barrakilla in 3rd. Five and a half lengths behind Sound Investment at Sandown, No Buts emphatically reversed the form at Newbury three weeks later coming home 8L clear of the Nicholls animal. He is a rapidly improving horse who jumps well, so despite a 10lb rise must have a serious chance at the weekend.

Barrakilla definitley comes into the picture on his form with Sound Investment and No Buts in the Sandown race, as not only does he enjoy a considerable turn around in the weights but considerable improvement can be expected,as it was his first run for nearly 11 months. In his previous race, at Warwick ( always a good test of jumping ) he had comfortably seen off the very useful Presian Snow in only his third chase. He is another on an upward curve who looks well treated off 135 giving him a nice racing weight of 10st 12lbs.

Nicky Henderson’s Ericht, who won with Quantitive Easing in 2011 is worth a second look. He ran a solid race on his reappearance at the course in October finishing 3rd to John’s Spirit, and was going well enough in the Paddy Power, until making a mistake at the second last. However it does have to be said that none of his previous course appearances have suggested a particular aptitude for the place, and his overall record hints at a preference for a flat track.

Kim Bailey’s 8yo Darna, who has won four of his seven chase starts looks interesting. Having his first run for nearly two years he hosed up in a class 3 at Sedgefield three weeks ago of a mark of 134. With the stable enjoying such a good season this lightly raced animal may well have further improvement in him and it would be no surprise to see him involved at the business end.

Selection. Attaglance

E.W. Barrakilla