Spotlight on the BetVictor Gold Cup
The BetVictor Gold Cup, still affectionately remembered as the Mackeson Gold Cup with the older N.H racing aficionados, is the feature race on the second day of Cheltenham’s Open Meeting, which runs between Friday November 11 and Sunday November 13.
This Grade Three handicap chase is run over two miles, four furlongs and 78 yards of the Old Course at National Hunt racing’s headquarters, with a total prize fund of £160,000 up for grabs.
Here is your runner-by-runner guide to the 2016 renewal.
The old boy of the party but still retains plenty of enthusiasm. The Pipe family are no strangers to winning this race and the ground looks in his favour. He finished a creditable second off Saturday’s mark when last seen at Market Rasen in July. Whether he can give weight all round remains to be seen.
Taquin Du Seuil
Has never quite reached the heights expected of him. Ran well over this trip at Warwick back in February and his latest hurdles run was eye-catching. He would probably like a bit more rain too.
Comes back to try and win the race again off a 9lb higher handicap than last year. He was beaten a long way by Vautour in the Ryanair Chase but this is more his grade. Would not want anything resembling quick ground at Cheltenham.
Was only sixth in this event 12 months ago but he looks to have matured since. He has won his last two starts and needs respecting after beating Double Shuffle at Chepstow last time out.
He won four valuable handicap chases on the spin last autumn including a race similar to this on the New Course. Hobbs is likely to have him primed again for this time of the year and he is a lively candidate for top honours here.
More Of That
It is hard to crab his seven wins from nine career outings and his World Hurdle victory at the 2014 Festival. He had two course wins this time last year and was third in the RSA Chase. He missed an intended run at Carlisle because of the ground last time. Just one or two niggling doubts about him in the background for punters.
Has never raced beyond two miles, one furlong over fences but has always looked like a potential stayer and may be well suited by the trip. Trainer is on the hotlist for winners of late.
Ranks up there as one of the most frustrating horses in training at this level. Was last seen running on late –again, over hurdles at Aintree. He was beaten half a length by Annacotty in this race last year and undoubtedly will be the most punted each-way horse in the race.
November tends to be Venetia Williams’ hot month but the distinct lack of rain for her runners here is a worry. This horse definitely needs more cut in the ground to be seen to full effect.
This five-year-old represents the champion trainer and has attracted plenty of support in the ante-post market. Ran well at the Festival back in March and looked like a winner jumping the last only to get run down at the finish. Anything owned by J.P McManus has to be feared too.
He was a head second to Art Mauresque on his recent seasonal debut at Chepstow and represents the all conquering Tom George/Adrian Heskin partnership that are firing home the winners at present. He was third to Ballyalton at the Festival and looks to be improving and will be a big player in this.
Improving sort who finished off last season with a win at Newton Abbot. A victory over Ballyalton at Market Rasen last January is a good form line too. Tends to put in all his best performances however on heavy ground.
Another runner owned by the Potts’ who has been placed with Colin Tizzard. He made a pleasing enough debut for his new trainer when second to easy winner Fox Norton at the Showcase Meeting here last month. Will need to step up again to figure in this race.
Three from three this season and he jumps like a dream from what we have seen thus far. A 9lb weight for age allowance makes him an obvious choice under fine 3lb claimer Harry Cobden. He will however have to be very good to become the first four-year-old ever to win this race.
Now based with Johnny Farrelly after being previously trained by Paul Nicholls, Roger Brookhouse’s runner likes to get his heel in it would appear on paper. He was well fancied for the Festival Plate only to fall at the third fence. He could run well if that experience has not dented his confidence.
As De Mee
Top hurdler who is fast becoming a top chaser too. Opened up this season with an easy win at Fontwell as is sure to be primed and ready for this. Trainer Paul Nicholls with be hoping for big things in this race from the Dame Judi Dench owned six-year-old.
Went off the boil at the end of the season when pulled up twice but set off this season with two nice wins. Looked a little exposed at Newton Abbot last time out when finishing third. Rebecca Curtis’ runner is likely to set the pace and take them along early.
A regular runner around Cheltenham, Thomas Crapper has slipped to a useful mark if he can find his old spark. Based on his recent run at Ascot it is going to take a major leap of faith to include him on your shortlist here.
Won a hotly contested Chepstow Handicap Chase last time out and showed that he was still in love with the game after a spell in the doldrums. Connections are ultimately planning to send him to the Grand National this season as he is turning out to be a decent distance stayer. This race will probably not play to his strengths.
Village Vic brings course form into the equation which puts him bang there in contention for a decent attempt at this race. If he gets into anything like the jumping rhythm he had over these fences last year he is going to be hard to peg back.
As De Mee has a favourable weight and probably has the most racing nous of the three Paul Nicholls runners. He looks the sort to progress in the chasing sphere and his jumping style at Fontwell was very proficient and encouraging.
Mulldog suggests: Village Vic (22.0) & As De Mee (10.0) (each-way).
Other Cheltenham fancies:
12.40 Chelt- Dino Velvet (9.4) e/w.
1.15 Chelt- 2-4 R/FC.
1.50 Chelt- Sausalito Sunrise (10.5) e/w.
2.25 Chelt- see above.
3.00 Chelt- Fingal Bay (13.0) & Goodbye Dancer (19.0) e/w.
3.35 Chelt- Clondaw Cian (38.0) &
Final Nudge (28.0) e/w.
*Who Dares Wins (10.5) –replacement on Saturday morning.
4.05 Chelt- Miss Night Owl (16.0) & Pique Rock (50.0) e/w.