Clan Des Obeaux

Spotlight On The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup

The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup was first run in 1963. It was originally sponsored by Massey Ferguson and known as the Massey Ferguson Gold Cup. The race continued with this name until 1980, but since then it has had various sponsors and consequently several title changes.

For simplicity the race has become commonly known in the racing media as the December Gold Cup.

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The prestigious Grade Three handicap chase is run over two miles, four furlongs and 166 yards at Cheltenham and this year it has attracted a quality field of eleven runners.

Here is a runner-by-runner guide to Saturday’s showpiece:

 

Clan Des Obeaux

The Paul Nicholls-trained five-year-old steps into handicap company after staying on well in testing ground to win a graduation chase at Haydock last month.

Clan Des Obeaux has twice been beaten by only half a length by Whisper who franked the form recently with a splendid run in the Ladbrokes Gold Trophy (the former Hennessy).

A winner of three of his eight starts over the bigger obstacles, the gelding is understandably one of the market leaders.

 

Le Prezien

Third in last month's BetVictor Gold Cup behind Splash Of Ginge despite some poor jumping at times.

Last won in December 2016 at Exeter in a three runner graduation chase and this could well be his time of year.

Barry Geraghty gets the usual leg up on this JP McManus owned Paul Nicholls trained six-year-old.

 

Starchitect

David Pipe's Starchitect was just touched off at Cheltenham last month after making a shuddering mistake at the second last and losing valuable momentum behind the eventual winner Splash Of Ginge. He also finished a respectable fifth in the Grade 3 Handicap Chase at the Festival back in March.

The figures suggest Starchitect can reverse form with Splash Of Ginge and he has a 1lb pull for a neck defeat in November's Betvictor Gold Cup.

 

Foxtail Hill

Foxtail Hill is somewhat of a Cheltenham specialist having won there twice and finishing runner-up another.

The eight-year-old was well fancied for the BetVictor last time but he weakened three out and could only finish halfway down the field.

There is every suspicion the handicapper has caught up with him now this season.

 

Long House Hall

Dan Skelton’s nine-year-old has a good record at Cheltenham, including a win in the 2015 Sportingbet Handicap Hurdle and he came runner-up in the 2016 Coral Cup.

Skelton bypassed running him in Thursday’s rearranged Peterborough Chase and has kept him entered in this race instead.

He will have to be pretty special though to overcome a 518-day absence.

 

Romain De Senam

Paul Nicholls’ talented five-year-old looked very well handicapped when easily scoring in a class two event on his return at Chepstow, beating some decent horses in the process.

He finished fifth in the BetVictor and is unlikely to encounter going quite as attritional as it was at Cheltenham that day.

Even though he is the longest odds of the Paul Nicholls trio he is one of the more likely types to win.

 

Ballyalton

Ran a thoroughly pleasing race last time out in the BetVictor, finishing fourth despite losing a shoe on the way round.

The Ian Williams trained ten-year-old has an excellent record at Cheltenham and is only 3lb higher than when winning at the 2016 Festival. He is also very lightly raced having had just 16 career starts.

Williams is adept at keeping an older horse fresh as he proved with Gas Line Boy last weekend.

 

King’s Odyssey

Another Evan Williams runner who is very much in the same mould as former stable-stalwarts Alvarado and State Of Play.

Hailing from the same ownership, the eight-year-old made a pleasing return at Carlisle over a trip too short for him and he will now relish this step up in trip.

The going on Saturday should suit him right down to the ground and he is capable of running a big race.

 

Splash Of Ginge

This John Nield owned and Nigel Twiston-Davies trained nine-year-old keeps turning up and pulling it out of the bag when it is least expected and the pundits have written him off.

Splash Of Ginge is bidding to become the first horse since Exotic Dancer in 2006 to complete the big handicap chase double at Cheltenham if he can also bag the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup on Saturday.

Conditions will certainly be in his favour and he has not been too harshly treated after his BetVictor success.

History suggests he does not tend to follow up on a win but he almost pulled off a successful Haydock double when the ground was right in his favour on both occasions – as this Saturday will be for him.

 

Deauville Dancer

A progressive chaser for David Dennis who has won half his races over fences so far.

He has gone up 7lb on the back of his latest win at Doncaster but will not want the going to be too testing at Cheltenham.

Coupled with the fact that his stamina is also unknown at this trip it is probably better to look elsewhere for the winner.

 

Guitar Pete

The seven-year-old was detached in rear after being badly hampered at the first fence in the BetVictor and he did well to get within 25 lengths of the winner at the finish.

He was quietly fancied that day on the back of beating both Sametegal and Splash Of Ginge at Wetherby.

Guitar Pete is on a dangerously low weight given Ryan Day’s claim and should not be ignored at the foot of the handicap.

This grey was a former Grade One winner at Aintree when he was trained by the late Dessie Hughes.

 

Summary

Just the eleven runners but a competitive affair nevertheless and the predicted going should make it somewhat of a leveller.

As we alluded to in the write-up above it is very hard to leave the Nicky Richard’s trained Guitar Pete out of calculations given his fly-weight of 10st 2lb.

Richards has a 37.5% win strike rate and a 50% place strike rate in the last fortnight.

888sport suggests: Guitar Pete each way (Priced at 14/1 with 888sport)

 

*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*