Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (Grade 3) – 1.55 Cheltenham, Saturday 15th December
With eight of the last ten winners of the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup having been aged six to eight, it seems that this is the best age group to follow when searching for the winner. All but four of the field fit into the desired bracket, the five-year-old Full Glass, the two nine-year-olds War Sound and Foxtail Hill and the ten-year-old Splash Of Ginge.
Given the competitive nature of this race, it is little surprise that it is best to side with horses arriving here in good form. In fact, eight of the last ten winners had achieved a top-three finish on their most recent start. Of this year’s field, just over half of the field failed to make the frame last time including the likes of Rather Be, Full Glass and Cepage.
Race fitness is also something that has served previous winners well in recent years with only two of the last ten winners having not had at least two runs during the season. There are seven of this year’s field who have this hurdle to overcome namely – Rather Be, War Sound, Mr Medic, Cepage, Full Glass, Casse Tete and Foxtail Hill.
Given the undulating nature of the racecourse at Cheltenham, it seems sensible to think that some horses may not be suited by it. Therefore previous Cheltenham form can prove useful as shown by the pattern that eight of the last ten winners had achieved a top-three finish on their previous visits to Prestbury Park. Only seven of the lineup have this on their CV – Frodon, Baron Alco, Rather Be, Splash Of Ginge, Romain De Senam, Foxtail Hill and Guitar Pete.
If we narrow the focus on Cheltenham further, we can see that half of the winners in the last decade of this race had taken part in the BetVictor Gold Cup over course and distance. There are six such participants in this year’s renewal, Baron Alco (1st), Frodon (2nd), Guitar Pete (3rd), Rather Be (BD), Splash Of Ginge (PU) and Romain De Senam (UR).
In terms of weight, 10st 7lb appears to be the benchmark as seven of the last ten winners had carried at least that weight to victory. This eliminates the whole field with the exception of the top four, Frodon, Baron Alco, Rather Be and War Sound. There have also been some big weights carried to victory here including Poquelin and Tamarinbleu who both shouldered 11st 8lb to success, so don’t be afraid to go for one with a big weight on his back.
The final trend worth a mention is that surrounding the betting and it is not a good sign for favourite backers as this race has been something of a graveyard for market leaders. Only one of the last ten winners was sent off favourite and although the market is still open to change, it is not ideal for the current favourite Rather Be.
BARON ALCO – 7/7
Frodon – 7/7
Guitar Pete – 6/7
There are two horses who match all seven of our trends but the one who gets the nod is BARON ALCO. Gary Moore’s seven-year-old produced a fine round of jumping to land the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month and although he has 6lb more on his back this time around, it is hard to see him not running well. Exotic Dancer won both races in 2006 and I think there is every chance of Baron Alco doing the same.
Just missing out on the top spot is the runner-up from the BetVictor Gold Cup, Frodon. Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old produced a fine performance despite carrying top weight, something he has to do again here. Like the selection, he is a consistent performer so I expect he will run well but he is likely to find one or two too good on the day.
The shortlist is completed by last year’s winner Guitar Pete, who races from 1lb out of the handicap. Nicky Richards’ eight-year-old was staying on well from the back in November when third and there is every chance he could get closer to the front two on this more demanding course. He has no weight on his back and I find it hard to rule him out with any confidence.
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