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

Racing Ahead - - CHARLIE MCCANN -

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 BetVic­ Be Lucky.

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