Kylemore Lough

Spotlight on the BetVictor Gold Cup

The BetVictor Gold Cup is the feature race on Saturday afternoon on a card that includes seven top quality races and is one of the most popular days at Cheltenham outside of The Festival.

The Gold Cup, still affectionately remembered as the Mackeson Gold Cup with some of the older N.H racing aficionados, is a Grade Three handicap chase run over two miles, four furlongs and 78 yards of the Old Course at National Hunt racing’s headquarters.

Here is your runner-by-runner guide to the 2017 renewal.

 

Kylemore Lough

Kylemore Lough won eight races from 16 runs when trained by Kerry Lee, which included the Grade One Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in 2016.

The eight-year-old did not win in four starts last season and was moved to Harry Fry’s stable at the end of the season.

 

Le Prezien

Le Prezien only went down to Foxtail Hill by a neck at Cheltenham last time out and is well fancied to run well at the track again.

He is an improving game young horse (rated 150) that gets the trip so he must have a chance.

 

Double Treasure

A three-time winner already over the autumn and this race is another step up, but the gelding gets on well with Gavin Sheehan and they scored at Cheltenham together last time out.

 

Viconte Du Noyer

The familiar colours of the late Alan Potts will be carried by the eight-year-old this weekend after a decision by his family to let his racehorses take up their intended entries. This one will have to put a mediocre run last time out behind it.

 

Days Of Heaven

Nicky Henderson believes this runner to be too high in the handicap and says that he also needs fast ground which is not on the itinerary on Saturday.

 

Tully East

Irish-trained horses have won the Gold Cup five times, most recently thanks to Tranquil Sea in 2009. Alan Fleming’s horse is already a Cheltenham scorer and the signs are good for another big run.

 

Foxtail Hill

Foxtail Hill was an all-the-way winner over a slightly shorter distance at the Showcase Meeting recently and bids to follow up by taking this feature for his trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies.

 

Theinval

Nicky Henderson said of Theinval: "Theinval was unlucky all last year. One day we will get it right. He ran very nicely at Ascot over two miles that day but this is his trip.”

 

Romain De Senam

Impressive in his two wins since coming back this season, he has run well at Cheltenham previously - second in the Fred Winter. The forecast ground will be right up his street too.

Paul Nicholls seeks to land this prize for a third time in six years.

 

Starchitect

David Pipe, who saddled Great Endeavour to victory six years ago, relies on Starchitect who won on his seasonal return at Stratford.

Rated 144, he has won on the flat, over hurdles and twice over fences. He could be an interesting each-way player.

 

Ballyalton

Ballyalton missed last season, but made an encouraging comeback in a two and a half mile handicap hurdle at Aintree three weeks ago.

He is a previous winner of the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase at Cheltenham and could be a dark horse in this.

 

Aqua Dude

Evan Williams feels his seven-year-old is much more the finished article this season after flattering to deceive last season.

He reappeared with a stylish win at Uttoxeter last month.

 

Bentelimar

A consistent performer for Shay Barry in Ireland, he has only recently moved to Charlie Longsdon's stable.

He has run some very good races in Ireland in big handicaps and looks overpriced at around 33/1.

 

Plaisir D’amour

The five-year-old mare has won three of her eight chase starts in total, all of which have been during her time with Venetia Williams.

888sport

She appeared to enjoy Cheltenham on her first appearance here in a mares' event on the New Course back in April.

 

Guitar Pete

Guitar Pete gained a pair of Grade One victories over hurdles as a juvenile in 2014, as well as finishing third in the Triumph Hurdle at The Festival.

The grey ended a frustrating run of four second places to score a tidily off bottom weight in the bet365 Handicap Chase at Wetherby last time out.

 

Splash Of Ginge

Splash of Ginge made the early running in the bet365 Handicap Chase at Wetherby, but at the business end the Listed event turned into a duel between Guitar Pete and Sametegal.

That run was encouraging however and Nigel Twiston-Davies trained nine-year-old is a previous course and distance winner.

 

Mystifiable

The grey gelding ran fourth to Romain De Senam in the John Ayres Memorial Handicap Chase at Chepstow on his seasonal reappearance after being a couple of pounds out of the handicap.

The stable is very much in form but this really would be a fairytale if Miss L.M Pinchin (7) could upset the odds.

 

Lake Takapuna

Won the 'Bet Through The Racing Post App' Handicap Chase at Leopardstown on Boxing Day last year but failed to build upon that in two subsequent runs.

He has been off the track since August and he does not jump off the page at you as an obvious candidate to win this.

 

Summary

The meeting may have lost its “Open” tag this year but this feature race of the thee-day festival certainly makes up for it in terms of horses with chances.

Venetia Williams is no stranger to winning big handicaps on a Saturday at Cheltenham and her mare Plaisir D’amour has been largely ignored in the betting.

The five-year-old has all the credentials to run a big race on her seasonal return and she is certainly worth an each-way poke.

Bentelimar is just the type of horse who can respond to a change of scenery and a new training regime and Charlie Longsdon will have done all the right things with him. This is another each-way contender in a wide open contest.

888sport suggests: Plaisir D’amour and Bentelimar (e/w).