nicholls may hold key to gold cup
Charlie McCann looks at the main rivals for the BetVictor Gold Cup and decides Le Prezien is good value
The BetVictor Gold Cup is the feature race of Cheltenham’s three-day November Meeting (formerly Open Meeting) and is the festival that really kicks-off the National Hunt season. There were plenty of festival clues at the corresponding meeting 12 months ago with Thistlecrack, favourite for the Gold Cup prior to his unfortunate injury, winning a novices’ chase and Queen Mother Champion Chase runner-up and subsequent Aintree and Punchestown festival hero Fox Norton landing the Schloer Chase under Aidan Coleman.
When you throw in the likes of Defi du Seuil, Wholestone and Le Prezien all winning over the three days it shows just how the strong the meeting is, with the latter likely to take his place in the feature this season.
BetVictor Gold Cup: Sponsors’ prices
Romain de Senam 10/1 Shantou Village 12/1 Gold Present 12/1 Le Prezien 16/1 More of That 16/1 Two Taffs 16/1 Bun Doran 16/1 Acapella Bourgeois 16/1 20/1 Bar
His trainer, Paul Nicholls, saddled four in last year’s BetVictor Gold Cup with Frodon, the ante-post favourite, becoming the first 4yo to run in the race’s long and colourful history. He disappointed on the big day but made amends in the Decem- ber Gold Cup four weeks’ later and could well be part of Team Ditcheat’s arsenal again this year.
The ten-time Champion Trainer has historically done well with second season chasers in the 2m 5f contest, winning two of the last six renewals, and both winners Al Ferof and Caid du Berlais taking a winning leap out of novice company. Romain de Senam was cut to the 10/1 favourite (from 16s and 25s) with the sponsors after his impressive success last month at Chepstow and looks to have BetVictor Gold Cup written all over him.
Like most of Nicholls’ runners he has improved since sent over the larger obstacles and made a winning return under Sam Twiston-Davies. The Ditcheat handler insists that he is looking away from the November Meeting at present but he looks well-treated on the pick of his form and remains unexposed over fences.
Two more second season chasers that could line-up are Le Prezien and Clan des Obeaux, with the latter touted as a Gold Cup horse by connections after boltingup in a novice chase at Newbury’s Hennessy meeting last November.He was narrowly beaten by Whisper in the Dipper on NewYear’s Day but disappointed in the spring and has been given a chance by the handicapper accordingly.
The pick of the Ditcheat inmates looks to be Le Prezien and owner JP McManus known for plotting-up one, if not a couple, for the £170,000 contest. Connections famously landed a gamble with Quantitativeeasing in 2012 and I can see this lad being punted on November 18th. He won the G2 Novices’ Chase at the meeting 12 months ago and took the scalp of subsequent French Champion Hurdle winner L’Ami Serge on last month’s seasonal reappearance.
Northern trainers have a poor record in the race with the Ferdy Murphy-trained L’Antartique the sole success in the race’s 57-year history but I expect them to go close this time around thanks to Northumberland-based handler Malcolm Jefferson.He has two potential superstars on his hands with Cloudy Dream and Waiting Patiently; with the latter unbeaten in three starts over fences.
Providing the 6yo gets his preferred soft ground than he should prove better than his official rating of 150. Stablemate Cloudy Dream chased home Altior in the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival and likewise finished runner-up at Aintree when stepping up to two and a half miles for the Manifesto Novices’ Chase.The bold grey finally got a deserved graded success over fences at Ayr’s Grand National meeting but would have to give 5lb to Waiting Patiently if the pair meet in the BetVictor Gold Cup.
Ante Post Selections: BetVictor Gold Cup
Le Prezien 16/1 Waiting Patiently 20/1 For all the latest odds head to BetVictor.com Be Lucky.