Friday, December 11, 2020

The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup 2020

A somewhat curtailed post this evening...

Seventeen have been declared for tomorrow's Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham (1.50) where the going is described as soft, good to soft in places. In a race with a number of specific trends, I'm hoping recent renewals will help narrow the field and point in the right direction... 

Coole Cody ran out a well-backed winner of last month's Paddy Power Gold Cup (Al Dancer third, Saint Sonnet a tired fall at the last after lying up with the pace) run over two miles four furlongs on the Old Course. Tomorrow's renewal takes place on the New Course, generally considered to be a stiffer test, over a half furlong further.

I must say I found Coole Cody's performance the last day quite remarkable. Set alight early by a loose horse, Evan Williams' charge raced from the front, producing a number of unorthodox leaps along the way, all of which appeared to have a negligible impact on his momentum. One length in arrears coming to the last, Spiritofthegames looked an ominous threat but Coole Cody dug deep up the hill to win by three and a quarter lengths. The handicapper has had his say and raised the winner six pounds; Exotic Dancer was the last horse to pull off this particular 'double' in 2006.

The stats highlight the chances of younger horses, 1993 winner Fragant Dawn the last older than eight to come home in front. However, since 1963, just three under the age of six have collected the spoils: The Laird (5), 1966; Unioniste (4) 2012; and Frodon (4) 2016.

Both Unioniste and Frodon were trained by Paul Nicholls who saddles three tomorrow including five-year-old Saint Sonnet; connections fit a first-time tongue tie but soft ground and a further half furlong wouldn't appear to help the cause.

Stablemate Master Tommytucker carries topweight and beat Good Boy Bobby 15 lengths at Haydock three weeks ago; on seasonal debut, in receipt of six pounds, the gelding was beaten just under three lengths by Al Dancer. Jumping has proved something of an issue for this one but in a TV interview earlier this afternoon the handler indicated they'd worked hard to resolve the issues. This is the first time Master T has raced in a field of more than 10 runners. 

The yard's other runner Southfield Stone won at this track on his penultimate start beating Coole Cody one and a half lengths at level weights; he was subsequently beaten 17 lengths by Protektorat, currently third favourite for the Marsh Novices' Chase in March.

I'd imagine connections were slightly disappointed with the way Al Dancer finished off his race in third in the Paddy Power; he goes off the same mark tomorrow and at the time of writing is clear favourite.

Course and distance winner Cepage makes his seasonal debut and has run well fresh before; his chance is respected.

Since 1997 only two horses have won off an official handicap mark higher than 150: Poquelin (151), 2009; Poquelin (163), 2010; and Frodon (164), 2018.

Combining the age and handicap benchmarks discussed narrows the field to the following: Windsor Avenue, Chatham Street Lad (137 in Ireland, 141 here), Midnight Shadow, Good Boy Bobby, Ronan De Senam, Benatar, Southfield Stone, Champagne Mystery and Annie Mc.

The market has proved a reasonable enough guide over the past ten years with seven winners starting at less than 10/1, although it's interesting to note the favourite has never obliged in that timeframe.

Course and distance winner Midnight Shadow is the one I've opted for. He was lucky to win the Dipper when Champ fell at the penultimate flight in January and subsequently finished sixth in the Marsh behind Samcro (Saint Sonnet seventh, Annie Mc over 40 lengths further behind in ninth). 

Sue Smith's charge posted a below par effort on seasonal debut in the Old Roan. Stable form remains something of a worry, and in an ideal world I'd want more than the 9/1 currently on offer, but he should certainly handle underfoot conditions and hopefully prove competitive.

William Hill and Paddy Power both pay six places; Midnight Shadow is the each-way suggestion.


Anonymous said...

Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase

173,AL DANCER(FR),8.6
164,ANNIE MC(IRE),0.2

The going at Cheltenham this morning is Soft.

Well done for having a go at this race; the system has struggled to come up with a value selection so it’s a race to watch & enjoy for me.

Midnight Shadow scores quite well on the system but it thinks 10/1 too short and raises a flag against recent form; even for a seasonal debut that Roan Chase effort was flat.

Benatar, at 180, tops the system ratings, could be a well handicapped horse, but there is a red flag against his 693 day absence. Favourite Al Dancer ticks all of the boxes with the exception of his rating; at 173 the system sees lots of potentially better handicapped horses so 6/1 looks too short. Of the bigger priced runners Southfield Stone running off a mark of 145 in only his 2nd handicap start may perhaps out run his odds.

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

Thanks for providing your ratings, TW.

Yes, a difficult race - but I'm still trying to work out what I like in the International... :)

Anonymous said...

Unibet International Hurdle

172,CALL ME LORD(FR),5.4

Take out Call Me Lord & Stormy Ireland [not good enough] along with Verdana Blue [ground] and it looks a very competitive renewal.

Goshen could still be anything but 7/4 looks too short to the system not withstanding his two pipe openers on the flat when perhaps a bit bolder showing might have been expected.

The system highlights the potential value in Ch’tibello [9/1] and Ballyandy [16/1] and I’ll be looking to play these two though still deciding how best to do that!

Good luck if you do work it out and take an interest.


GeeDee said...

Thanks, TW!

Good luck!

Sandracer said...

Aah the winner jumped in with a circuit to go. Must have.

Anonymous said...

Combining the age and handicap benchmarks discussed narrows the field to the following: Windsor Avenue, Chatham Street Lad (137 in Ireland, 141 here), Midnight Shadow, Good Boy Bobby, Ronan De Senam, Benatar, Southfield Stone, Champagne Mystery and Annie Mc.

Not a trends man but the above found the first five home.....

Great selection for the blog, came up against a very well handicapped Irish horse!


GeeDee said...

Must have, Sandracer!

Ratings of Irish runners in Cheltenham handicaps, TW - that subject rings a bell... ;)

GeeDee said...

A race in which a number in the field struggled to get involved.

Between them Coole Cody (10/1) and Master Tommytucker (15/2) cut out much of the running, the former jumping out right on occasions while a mistake at the penultimate flight put paid to the latter's chance.

Midnight Shadow (12/1) raced prominently in third or fourth and quickened nicely off the home bend to hold every chance two out. However, when Darragh O'Keefe produced Chatham Street Lad (16/1) it quickly became clear the Irish raider wasn't for catching. Michael Winters' charge stormed up the hill to win this competitive handicap by 15 lengths, with the selection staying on to claim second.

Benatar (25/1) posted a noteworthy effort on his first run for 693 days to claim third spot some 12 lengths further adrift while the well-backed Good Boy Bobby (6/1) was fourth and Annie Mc (18/1) fifth.

I'd say Michael Winters has a horse to go to war with there. This evening Sky Bet quote 16/1 about Chatham Street Lad for the Marsh Novices' Chase back at Cheltenham next March.