Friday, November 16, 2018

BetVictor Gold Cup 2018

I'd never go so far as to class myself a royalist but I've always felt an area where Her Majesty The Queen acts as a shining example to all of her subjects is the manner in which she uses horse racing as a form of escape from the trials and tribulations encountered doing the day job.

That said, somehow I don't think we're going to see Theresa May turning up at Prestbury Park over the weekend.

The highlight on tomorrow's card is the BetVictor Gold Cup run on the old course over a trip of two and a half miles; twenty have been declared with the race due off at 2.25 - the going is described as good, good to soft in places.

Splash Of Ginge won last year's renewal off a mark of 134. Nigel Twiston-Davies' charge starts seven pounds higher this time and is now ten.

The last horse older than nine to come home in front was Clear Cut in 1975 and since the race's inception as the Mackeson Gold Cup in 1960 only two other horses in that age bracket have won - Fortria in 1962 and Charlie Worcester in 1967.

Market leaders Rather Be and Mister Whitaker fought out a ding-dong battle in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase at The Festival in March, the latter prevailing by a head. Nine pounds better off Rather Be might be expected to reverse the form but Mr Whitaker has a recent run under his belt while Rather Be makes his seasonal debut; they look closely matched.

Paul Kealy tips up Kalondra in the Weekender, arguing Neil Mulholland's inmate was in the process of running a huge race when coming to grief two out behind Sub Lieutenant at Galway in August. A previous winner at this track Kalondra could be up to ten pounds well in off his current mark and has been given time to recover from that fall.

Joint top-rated on Racing Post ratings, Baron Alco is a consistent front-runner who was beaten a head on his comeback at Chepstow last month. I've seen him put up here and there but prior to that Chepstow effort he had been on the sidelines for some 19 months and I'd just be worried he could 'bounce' here. At the time of writing stablemate Benatar is the shorter priced.

King's Socks boasts smart French form and has been on several lists of horses to follow for a while now. He hasn't quite lived up to the high expectations but has undergone a wind operation since last seen and races in a tongue-tie for the first time. Between 2000 and 2006 Martin Pipe, David's father, won six of the seven renewals of this race.

West Approach raced pretty keenly here last time out, eventually finishing third behind Relentless Dreamer over three miles. I suspect he'll benefit with that freshness out of the way and I like Dickie Johnson on a front-runner but I'm not convinced the step back in trip will suit.

With any potential selection for this race I like to see winning form at this track and only six match the required criteria: Kalondra, Mister Whitaker, Ballyandy, Frodon, Guitar Pete, Shantou Village and last year's winner Splash Of Ginge.

Guitar Pete was ninth in this last year and then won the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup in December although Starchitect appeared to have the spoils in the bag that day before breaking down when seven lengths clear. Brian Hughes rides tomorrow; he could run well at odds of 33/1.

However the one I'm going to make a case for is top weight Frodon. Firstly, let me get the bad news out of the way. Paul Nicholls' runner has to give a minimum of nine pounds to his opponents and I admit it does look a pretty big ask.

In 2012 Al Ferof won for Nicholls off a rating of 159 carrying 11-8; in 2016 Taquin Du Seuil won off a rating of 156 carrying 11-11. The last horse to carry more than 11-11 to victory was Very Promising in 1986 (David Nicholson trained, Richard Dunwoody up).

That said, Frodon took the Old Roan Chase at Aintree (Javert second) last month. He starts three pounds higher tomorrow on 161 (six pounds higher if Bryony Frost's claim is taken into consideration) but afterwards connections indicated their charge wasn't 'hard fit' - I saw one estimate he was 80% ready.

So I'm hopeful there's some more to come on this his second run after a wind operation and he's joint top on Racing Post ratings. He doesn't boast the most consistent of profiles but the 17 length defeat of Shantou Village here in January reads well; the two appear closely matched on these revised terms.

I can't help but feel a little like Bingo Little in a P.G.Wodehouse scrape (PG's Tips does PG Wodehouse) and that invariably ends in disaster but, just look, the sponsors are paying one fifth the odds six places and Paddy Power one fifth the odds seven places!

Frodon is the each-way selection at 18/1 with Paddy Power.


Anonymous said...

I’m in the King’s Socks camp, he ran a fine race at the Festival off 1lb higher before looking to falter up the hill; same trip here but the better ground should enable him to run to the line today. A second wind-op over the summer and a tongue-tie fitted for the first time this race looks to have been targeted in the expectation that his handicap mark is still generous and perhaps today he can start to repay some of that 210,000 Euro purchase price [12/1 6 places, 1/5 odds].

Easy to see Frodon running a big race and claiming one of those 7 places on offer with Paddy Power but perhaps without being able to find quite enough off 11-12 to snatch first place.

Good Luck!


GeeDee said...

Agree, TW, King's Socks looks to have been laid out for the race.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic effort from Frodon under a huge weight, for a moment I thought he might just get up...well done!


GeeDee said...

An incident-packed renewal of this famous old race with just six of the original 18 starters managing to complete (Benatar and Geordie Des Champs the non-runners).

I'm struggling to recall a renewal with so many casualties:

Three fell: Whoshotwho, Willie Boy and Movewiththetimes;
Four unseated rider: Shantou Village, Kalondra, Romain De Senam and King's Socks;
Two brought down: Rather Be, Happy Diva;
Three pulled up: Ballyandy (unfortunate), West Approach (not jump well) and Splash Of Ginge (tailed off).

It certainly paid dividends to race prominently. Front-runner Baron Alco (8/1) didn't bounce at all and made most to win by two lengths from selection Frodon (16/1) who could never quite mount a serious challenge in the final three furlongs - nonetheless this was a career-best effort under top weight.

Guitar Pete (12/1) avoided the trouble behind to stay on for third with Mr Whitaker (6/1jf) making late progress to claim fourth after Movewiththetimes and Shantou Village came to grief at the last. In post race interviews connections of Mr Whitaker indicated their charge would have appreciated more give underfoot.

Eamon An Cnoic (50/1) and Javert (25/1) were the others to complete, finishing fifth and sixth respectively.

Anonymous said...

Permission to get excited about a 40/1 shot in the Greatwood.

50% of the last 20 winners have been 5YO's

Tom Lacey's strike rate in early season since the start of the 2013/14 season 21%

Tom's view on his runners in the race: "They both head to The Greatwood tomorrow, if they finish in the front half I will be over the moon with them. Based on all known form the ground is too quick for Vado. It will never be quick enough for Equus Amadeus."

The going continues to dry out at Cheltenham and there is now more Good than there is Good to Soft.

Joint 4th top on TimeForm Ratings

Horse Jockey TFR

2nd Top on Lawrence Taylor's speed ratings and best LTO rating

Cheltenham 3-00 Handicap Hurdle (Class 1) 16f

Horse Best Lto 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
Man Of Plenty 127 95 81 127 102 108 --
Equus Amadeus 125 125 (85) 46 -- 124 111
Nube Negra 125 111 125 -- -- -- --
Vado Forte 118 118 115 114 -- -- --

LTO Speed: Equus Amadeus 125 Vado Forte 118 Caius Marcius 117

Form of his last win/race is working out O.K; Red Hot Chilly 4th home in that race won a handicap hurdle on Friday at this meeting at odds of 33/1. Probably his best run was on the closing day of the 2017/18 season at Sandown when he finished 3rd in a hot handicap on ground that was officially GS but much closer to Soft; form of this race is working out well. He's had a further wind op since his last race.

Probably adding 2+2 and getting 6 but I'm struggling to understand why Equus Amadeus is 40/1 and at those odds I must be a player!


GeeDee said...

Permission granted, TW!

From Weekender stable tour 7-11.11.18:

"...we sent him back over hurdles again at Wincanton last month when he beat a useful yardstick in Mick Thonic. I was worried the ground might be too quick as he's a great big horse, a real monster, but he still did the business. The Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham could be his next race if he gets in and he'd be an interesting runner as he'd almost certainly get the good, strong gallop he requires."