Caspian Caviar Gold Cup
The first five from the Betvictor Gold Cup face off once more here the likes of Splash of Ginge, Starchitect, Ballyalton, Romain De Senam, Le Prezien and a few others. This time we are also joined by Clan Des Obeaux representing Paul Nicholls and a couple of other interesting ones. Let’s go into detail on the contenders for this year’s running of the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.
The Betvictor Gold Cup 1-2-3-4-5 all collide again and Splash of Ginge beat them all in gritty fashion, holding off Starchitect who probably would have won but for a bad blunder late on.
Splash of Ginge has been hit with a 5lb rise which makes it more difficult despite the fact he will love conditions and the trip. I would be surprised if he can win back-to-back races to be honest but I can still see him running well at a nice price.
Starchitect has been hit with a 4lb rise himself which also makes it tougher for him although his record at Cheltenham is very consistent reading – 4-5-5-5-2 in big fields. He should run well too but I don’t see any value in 6/1 as he has got to keep on improving and find more to win this.
Le Prezien likes it around here and has the assistance of Barry Geraghty again. But my worry with this horse is his “will to win” as he doesn’t look the hardiest of battlers in a finish and I think he ran his race last time in the Betvictor Gold Cup. Paul Nicholls charge is sure to go well but I feel the trainers other runner is a much stronger contender.
Ballyalton on the other hand really interests me who finished fourth that day. Once a high-class hurdler when chasing home the mighty Faugheen in a Grade one back in 2015, loves it around here and also won the 2016 close brothers at the Cheltenham Festival, beating 19 other runners in the process off 140, before running well in a Grade one at Aintree. He wasn’t seen for over one year but ran an eye-catching race over hurdles at Aintree on his return to finish 6th of 15 before running a blinder in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup to be a staying on fourth. Ian Williams has gradually built up this horses fitness and the best part about this horse is that he is better off at the weights with the three who finished in front of him last time. He was beaten 6 lengths but is 2lb better off with Le Prezien, 4lb better off with Starchitect and 4lb better off with Splash of Ginge. Tom Obrien rides again and you will expect Ballyalton to come on for that latest run again here and his course form reads – 1-4-2-6-1-4. Although he falls down on the age trend being a 10yo, I think he has every chance of finishing closer or even possibly winning.
Romain De Senam travelled strongly before not seemingly getting up the hill and for the other reason being is that he came into that race in great form winning twice. Paul Nicholls has booked Noel Fehily to ride which is eye-catching but I would have liked to have seen this 5yo finish closer last time behind some of these and he isn’t much better off at the weights either. I think he is handicapped up to his eyeballs at present and I will be avoiding him this time around until bouncing back. Foxtail Hill was another that came into the Betvictor Gold Cup in serious form but was well beaten into eighth place and is another who looks handicapped to the hilt although he does like it at Cheltenham better than anywhere else.
Guitar Pete is another interesting runner at the foot of the weights. He has been revitalised since joining Nicky Richards with form figures for the stable reading – 2-0-2-2-2-2-1-0. Guitar Pete was sent off just 11/1 for the Betvictor Gold Cup but was badly hampered at the first fence and was unable to get back into the business end but didn’t fare to badly in finishing 9th of 17 having nearly been brought down at the first fence. You can easily forgive him that latest effort which was just unlucky. Two starts ago Guitar Pete landed a Listed race at Wetherby over 2m3f, winning by an easy 7 lengths. The horses he destroyed that day were Sametegal back in second who has subsequently ran a big race to finish in the frame over the National fences in the Grand Sefton. The horse well beaten in fourth over 20 lengths behind Guitar Pete was Splash of Ginge! Although he was getting 11lb from him, he is only 2lb better off for this race so why on earth is Guitar Pete bigger in the betting?! I think that is madness. Guitar Pete is overpriced here and he will definitely finish much closer in this than the Betvictor Gold Cup providing he doesn’t get hampered at the beginning again.
Kings Odyssey ran ok last time but I don’t think he is good enough and his two previous efforts here have been dreadful and although Deauville Dancer has won his last three, this will need a career best from him off his current mark and this is a massive step up in class which leaves him vulnerable.
Long House Hall is an interesting contender on the other hand told representing the in-form Harry/Dan Skelton combination. This horse has so much talent but hasn’t been seen on the track for over 500 days which has to be a concern. But, he likes it here and was 16 length winner over C&D when over hurdles and did manage a good 2nd in the Coral Cup in 2016. He is only 5lb higher over fences now and his last appearance seen him land the competitive Summer Plate at Market Rasen off 143 by 8 lengths. Dan Skelton has obviously had this race planned for his charge a long time and is obviously well-handicapped off just 2lb higher for his last win but it would surely take a tremendous effort for Dan Skelton to have him 100% for this after a long layoff. He is a cracking each-way contender but it might be pushing the boat out for him to win this.
Last but not least we have market leader Clan Des Obeaux for the powerful yard of Paul Nicholls and ridden by in-form Harry Cobden. He has been well supported all week for this prize and Paul Nicholls has never held back how highly he rates this 5yo. He has given the impression he has a bit of a glass chin but it all came down this horses breathing which stopped him from taking the highest ranking. Finally, everything has started to click for this son of Kapgarde and his latest performance was pure class the way he dispatched a quality field at Haydock. He was on the bridle the whole way up the home straight whereas the links of Cyrius Darius and Born Survivor (market leaders) were both well beaten. Clan Des Obeaux showed he isn’t just a traveller but is a battler as he found plenty for pressure in beating the tough Vintage clouds. What’s more interesting is the that Clan Des Obeaux covered the final circuit of the Haydock venue three seconds quicker than Bristol De Mai who destroyed the opposition in the Betfair Chase. That showed the level of performance of Clan Des Obeaux’s impressive victory. Before that, he gave the classy Whisper a run for his money in a driving finish at Kempton off level weights beaten just half-a-length and that horse has since gone on to nearly land the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury (conceded Total Recall chunks of weight) beaten narrowly. Although Clan Des Obeaux has to carry top-weight 11-12, I think a mark of 155 underestimates this horse who could well prove to be higher. He has course form which is a bonus having also been beaten half-a-length by Whisper in a novice chase over C&D back in the new year (probably would have won but for mistake two out). He also managed 6th in a Triumph Hurdle and 2nd in a Grade 2, so clearly is adaptable at this track. Connections could have put up a claimer to reduce his welter burden but for the simple fact they keep Harry Cobden on board speak a volumes. Either way, I think this classy horse could well be up to conceding the weight away and be too good for this field. Plus, the is no horse in the calibre of Whisper to contend with which is another positive for his chances.
A very tricky race to solve and the four horses i have it down to are,
Guitar Pete has a serious chance based on his Wetherby win and looks set to run a big race off bottom weight.
Long House Hall has outstanding each-way claims off a ridiculously well-handicapped mark but the only concern is his long layoff.
Ballyalton has outstanding each-way claims based on his latest effort in the Betvictor Gold Cup and his overall Cheltenham record.
Clan Des Obeaux concedes weight but could well be capable of higher than a mark 155 and his form with Whisper makes him a serious contender.
CLAN DES OBEAUX –
1 POINT WIN (9/2) available.
LONG HOUSE HALL –
0.5 POINTS EACH-WAY (14/1) widely available, paying three places.
Also I will throw in a combination forecast bet if anyone would like to go a little ambitious.
Clan Des Obeaux – 9/2 available.
Ballyalton – 9/1 available.
Guitar Pete – 12/1 available.
0.25 point combination forecast (1.5 point total).