Darren Goodbody’s best bets for Cheltenham Saturday 10th December
CASPIAN CAVIAR GOLD CUP HANDICAP CHASE (Grade 3)
Nineteen have stood their ground so far with four places on the table on offer to punters, there are still four days until the final declarations and with the weather forecast giving out good signs we could see exceptional riding ground once more at Prestbury Park.
Five from the Betvictor Gold Cup have entries here which include the winner and runner up Taquin Du Seuil and Village Vic who battled it out in the closing stages to be separated by a head with Buywise back in third, Aso in fourth and Bouvreil in fifth. That form has already been franked with As De Mee who went on to land the Grand Sefton in a top performance last weekend by five lengths. Taquin De Seuil had to concede weight all round that day, giving a 1lb to Village Vic for a neck and will have to give another 2lb this time around and the placings can be reversed. Village Vic is looking to become only the second entry since Poquelin to retain the Caviar Gold Cup, but is 23lb higher than last year, it has been 20 years since Addington Boy carried above 11st 9lb to win this.
The third Buywise will enjoy once more this test of stamina when staying on strongly at the business end when only two lengths off the leaders, he will get a massive 17lb from Taquin and a stone from Village Vic which in theory gives him a serious chance of landing a blow against the top two. Four of the past five renewal winners have carried low weights and this brings in the likes of Warren Greatrex’s ALOOMOMO and Paul Nicholl’s Froden.
Paul Nicholl’s has won this three of the past seven years with Unioniste landing the race in 2012 under a bpttomless weight of 10st. Froden has probably not shown his true potential, his form around the Novice ranks has seen him win four of his five starts this season, so how good was his run in the BV Gold Cup when only managing tenth in the race and does look well held by many here. His jumping has not been up to scratch, but i am willing to give him excuses. I thought his rest period from his win at Wincanton when landing the Grade 2 Rising Stars Chase, now can we say that Shantou Village would of caught him in the closing stages if not falling at the last, my opinion is no, Froden had the measure of him a long way from home. I think he is better at this trip if the ground stays on the good side of soft and with a nice racing weight of 10st 7lb and the fact Nicholl’s has a good record in the race i would expect a better show.
The other is Greatrex’s Aloomomo who is still unknown quality in my mind.With three chase wins last season on ground good and soft he seems very versatile on most goings. He turned up at the festival here in March when finishing a good sixth in the Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase on only his second season start, on that day he had Thomas Brown nine lengths in his wake, but had to finish behind the likes of Bouvreil who was second on that occasion. Aloomomo was conceding 2lb that day to Bouvreuil for a nine length defeat, this time he gets a 8lb pull, but is it enough to pull such a heavy defeat to Beuvreuil around.
He won around this time last year when landing the Sir Peter O’Sullivan Handicap Chase at Newbury by a commanding nine lengths. The ground at Ascot looked to be to much on the quick side that day as he labored very quickly to taste defeat by six lengths, but that was over hurdles. Now back chasing and the trip of no inconvenience I would be willing to throw a few pound at him each way of his weight.
One we can not over look is obviously BEUVREUIL who does look ready to go close in one of these solid handicaps this season. He is a tricky one to nail down, probably still on a learning curve around this sphere, lets not forget he is only a second season chaser who will improve. The last five year old to win this was all the way back in 1966, as we would say around England’s appearances in the World Cup’s, 50 years of hurt. He finished fifth in the BV Gold Cup behind four adversaries here once more. He is well weighted and off a fair mark of 146 and is another that represents Paul Nicholl’s. Second in the Close Brothers at the Festival and looked the winner until ran down in the closing stages by Ballyalton.
It’s a tough one to whom to choose from the Nicholl’s entries here, the trainer had Unioniste to land this race as a four year old and this could bring in the likes of Froden into the equation. Then we have the big guns Village Vic and Taquin Du Seuil who go head to head once more, but has the weight in reality relinquished their chances this time around. Beuvreuil looks real potential, but at the age of five it would probably be a big ask to overhaul the older generation here, so bold as it may seem i am going al in on Warren Greatrex’s ALOOMOMO, who has a good low racing weight, Gavin Sheehan on board and did show strong potential on his third on seasons reappearance at Ascot behind Elegant Escape.
ALOOMOMO : 2pts Each Way @ 12/1 (BOG ON THE DAY)
ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES´ HURDLE (Registered As The Bristol Novices´ Hurdle) (Grade 2)
An encouraging turn out for the Bristol Novices renewal which has seen success in the past for the likes of Blaklion and Unowhatimeanharry with the former especially turning into a nice chaser. Over the years some of the winners have gone on to run in the Challow’s over Christmas or straight to March at the festival.
This year’s turn out is full of potential indeed, lets start with Neil Mulholland’s unbeaen Impulsive Star who won his maiden hurdle without coming out of second gear at Ffos Las on the 18th November. His turn of foot from three out was eye-catching beating his nearest rival by five lengths. There was a few exposed entries that day and it is fair to say this is his stiffest task to date.
Paul Nicholl’s won this back in 2011 when the maestro had the likes of Ruby Walsh riding out, this year Dicheat have an Irish import in Anchor Man. Second in a p2p on debut he was bought in by Nicholl’s and Hart who also has a likely type in Daylami Kirk for the season. Anchor Man won on his UK debut when he hosed up by eight lengths at local track Exeter. His maiden hurdle is looking extremely weak and would have to improve once more to get competitive against a strong looking field. Ian William’s Blue Rambler has had a mixed bag career, an unbeaten three year old on the flat when trained in France by Andre Fabre he changed yards to Charlie Appleby and failed to shine on both runs for the yard.
He then joined John Ferguson’s yard with four runs under his supervision failing on all four attempts. He changed yards once more to Ian William’s and with two runs on the flat which including finishing sixth in this years Cesarewitch, his hurdling debut was a success when winning at Wetherby off a mark of 122. Now raised to a career highest mark of 131 going up 9lb for a three length win looks a hard mark to win off this time around.
Evan William’s brings in Gayebury who was seen last season finishing third to the likes of Ballyandy in the Listed Tap Tap Boom Bumper at Newbury. His transition to hurdles could not of gone better when winning at Ffos Las by three lengths when beating Tom George’s The World’s End. The ground looks a concern with most of his runs coming in soft to heavy conditions and will be tackling quick ground for the first time, but there should no reason why he will not adapt being sired by Overbuey.
Two others i would like to look at is Alan King’s Laser Light and the selection WHOLESTONE. The former represents a yard that seems to of turned a corner over the past twelve months and be among the winners over the past fortnight. Laser Light has ran well on both occasions since joining Barbary Castle and was a five length debutante winner over hurdles at Chepstow when beating Philip Hobb’s Rolling Dylan who has since gone on and franked the form at Uttoxeter by seven lengths. The third has also come out and won by a sizable margin at Chepstow. He has been raised 12lb for that success, but is definitely one on the upgrade and a danger to all from a yard that won this back in 2007.
Wholestone is the selection here from the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard. The trainer won this back in 2014 with Blaklion who went on to great success as a chaser. The selection won over course and distance when beating West Approach by half a length when in receipt of 3lb. The significance about his win was the amazing ride Daryl Jacob gave him that day over course and distance when slipping on the bend and hampered when looking out of contention, a strong ride and back in the mix when taking it up at the last to win probably a shade cosily despite the pressure from West Approach.
They meet off level weights this afternoon and would like to feel Wholestone can hold the form which saw him beat West Approach again in the Hyde Novices by an improved three lengths, he was not good enough to beat the likes of Peregrine Run of Peter Fahey’s who was coming into the race off the back of a three win spin. The step back up to three miles should set him up for a big run, he looks to have the measure of West Approach once moe.
Last but definitely not least is Dan Skelton’s runaway Hereford winner No Hassle Hoff. After falling on debit for the yard Brigette Andrew’s got him stuck in at Hereford when he literally jumped for fun when winning by nineteen lengths. He drops down in trip this afternoon which his not going to insignificant him in the slightest, but the ground just might.
WHOLESTONE : 2pt Win @ SP (BOG ON DAY)
STANJAMES.COM INTERNATIONAL HURDLE (Grade 2)
The New One will try to emulate Relkeel’s success in the late nineties and land this race for the third time, the 2013 and 2014 winner at the age of eight. The age is not a factor as Relkeel managed it as did Large Action did the year prior. This year he will be up against last years winner Old Guard who is not going to lay down lightly and give his crown away. There is a lot in his favor, being 9lb lower than when winning this two seasons ago, his form line from November to January reads 11121211121 which is very impressive and ultra consistent. He is probably a horse to catch right at this time of year, as going on to the following years festival has resulted in 1-4 in successes.
So who takes him on this year that can give him a scare, well Old Guard last years winner has won his last three encounters around Prestbury Park. After finishing fourth to Faugheen in the Christmas Hurdle of 2015 his season debut did not go as planned when pulled up when a 1/5f at Newton Abbott. He then struggled to overcome Imperial Presence at Exeter when just holding out by a neck. Switched back to hurdles he was thrashed out of site by Ch’Tibello, it was a tough assignment, but his struggle since last season would not concern some, horses for courses, he tends to thrive around Cheltenham and is still an adversary to all.
The old boy in the race Court Minstrel has started the season fairly well with a second to Hargam in the Listed Exchange Hurdle at Kempton which left Mister Miyagi back by three and a half lengths. He has also been defeated by Yanworth this year in the Coral Hurdle by almost twelve lengths, but that was over three and a half furlongs further, the drop back to two mile should benefit him, but he is getting long in the tooth now and looks up against the younger generation this time around. It’s been eleven years since we have seen an Irish trained winner of this race, Willie Mullins sends over Ivan Grozny who has landed his last three wins which has included the Grade 3 Grimes Hurdle and the Grade 2 Istabraq Hurdle which saw Hargam fifteen lengths back in third.
The six year old is an unknown quantity still, and you cannot over look the fact that Ivan Grozny is going to be an interesting entry, but as the winner of this race it is a tough ask. Yanworth is another that is still improving, he is a horse that relishes this time of year and has a similar profile to The New One which shows 1211111 at this time of year. The fact though is that even though he is a contender here he looks ground dependable and could miss this if the ground stays too quick for him.
My Tent Or Yours turns up here as an interesting route, Cheltenham has been a bad hunting ground for him over the years showing 222, yes agreed on the level this is a much easier task, if he jumps soundly and switches off he can run them all down, but at 7/4 he looks vulnerable.
There is no doubt this will be a tactical affair, can My Tent or Yours overcome his Cheltenham voodoo, is Yanworth still improving as much as his form shows, will it be The New One and My Tent or Yours battling it out to the line, can Old Guard return from a troubling season and use his course expertise and win the race for the second time. I have not come to my decision lightly, with a possible ten runners still in the mix this could be a race that OLD GUARD can out stay them all again, The New One and Yanworth have to be respected, but Paul Nicholl’s charge just gets a tentative vote.
OLD GUARD : 2pts each way @ 8/1 (BOG ON DAY)