Cheltenham International Meeting 2018. (Saturday) (15/12/2018)

Saturday 15th December 2018

The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup takes place at Cheltenham on Saturday which is a Grade 3 affair that’s ridden over a distance of just over two miles and four furlongs. It’s somewhat of a rematch of last month’s BetVictor Gold Cup with many of the horses that contested that particular contest reopposing each other here. Rather Be heads affairs again here for Nicky Henderson and Jeremiah McGrath. He comes here on somewhat of a redemption mission after he was brought down here last month when seemingly going well. If getting a clear round this time he’s an obvious player and you can find him trading at a general 3/1 at the top of the betting. Baron Alco won the BetVictor here last month in taking style from the front and he takes his place here once again and this time finds himself as a 6/1 second favourite. He’s up six pounds for that success which might not be enough to stop him should Jamie Moore get him in a rhythm in front again.

Paul Nicholls has two representatives in the line up here and the first of these comes in the form of the admirable Frodon. He was last seen when finishing second behind Baron Alco here last month however has no easy task here sitting at the top of the weights. He seems to get on well Bryony Frost but a career best is probably needed should he feature again. Romain De Senam concludes the Nicholls runners, he’s a horse that has always had ability but it’s finding the day where he decides to show it. He unseated here in the BetVictor last month and a clear step up is needed should he have any form of input this time around. Sean Bowen is in the saddle and he’s a general 20/1 chance. Last year’s winner Guitar Pete looks all set to take his chance here in an attempt to retain his crown. He comes here off the back of a couple of solid efforts including a fine third placed finish here last month. He’s running off just three pounds higher than his win in this twelve months ago and has every chance of going well again under Ryan Day.

There’s several in the field here that come under the more unexposed category and the first of these looks to be War Sound for Phillip Hobbs. He was last seen when winning in commanding fashion at Aintree on reappearance last month and their could well be a lot more to come under Richard Johnson here. Robert Watford’s Mr Medic also won in very smart style on his first outing of the season in his case at Ascot. That win came against some smart rivals also and whilst that win was somewhat of a shock judging on his price the manner of the success seemed no fluke. He’s a general 10/1 chance with James Best in the saddle. Foxtail Hill and Splash Of Ginge both have more than enough ability to get involved in this but are both looking exposed and slightly up against it. Whereas Full Glass and Catamaran Du Seil could well prove to be surprise packages. Cobra De Mai concludes the field for the Skelton’s and he needs to take a sizeable step up.

Race Verdict:

One of the most difficult races of the weekend to call as all of these are capable of big runs within decent company on their day. Rather Be has obvious claims if he gets a clear round however that is reflected in his price. I’ve got a couple of each way alternatives and the first of these comes in the form of last year’s winner Guitar Pete. He seems like he’s been around forever but he’s remarkably still only an eight year old. He’s looked as good as ever in his two runs this season and there’s nothing saying he can’t go well again off this mark. The second of my picks is Phillip Hobbs’ War Sound. The manner of his victory last time was very impressive and despite this being a whole different more testing assignment I think there could be a lot more to come from him.

GUITAR PETE – (10/1) (E/W)


WAR SOUND – (10/1) (E/W)


The International is the race the meeting revolves around which you wouldn’t of guessed. Its a Grade 2 Hurdle that’s contested over a distance of just over two miles and with the disappointing absence of Willie Mullins’ exciting young talent Laurina we have a tightly compact field which now has last season’s Supreme winner Summerville Boy heading affairs for Tom George. He made his reappearance earlier this month in the Fighting Fifth and was slightly disappointing. Its likely however that he needed the run and will be consequently a lot more tuned up for the assignment that lies ahead here. A horse with very strong course form which justifies his position at the top of the market at around 5/2. Noel Fehily is in the saddle.

The New One has made this race his own in recent years and comes here for what potentially could be his swansong. He was very poor on his reappearance and connections come here in hope of sparking a revival. You’d be a fool to completely write this old warrior off and he might not have had his final say just yet. One things for sure if he’s in with a shout coming up to the last the roof will come off this place. He’s a general 8/1 chance with Sam Twiston-Davies on board. Another likeable admirable sort looks to line up here and that’s none other than Old Guard for Paul Nicholls. Two fantastic efforts at both here in the Greatwood and at Ascot put him bang in the mix making him another you’d be foolish to rule out. We Have A Dream has been slightly disappointing so far this term following a fantastic campaign last season. Nicky Henderson’s mount will need to step up on current efforts but he’s a lot less unexposed than some of these and he could come into his own on this track.

Silver Streak ran a blinder when just missing out in the Greatwood here last time, He’s one of my favourite horses in training and is another that’s still improving. He’ll need to step up again here but that certainly doesn’t look beyond him. Western Ryder is another one we probably haven’t seen the best of yet, he’s teamed up with Richard Johnson here and the Warren Greatrex charge is a general 7/1 chance. Brain Power reverts back to hurdles after a poor time of it chasing and Vision Des Flos concludes the line up.

Race Verdict:

Just like the Gold Cup, This really is wide open as the betting suggests. Summerville Boy is probably the right favourite judging by his solid course form and you could literally make a solid case for the rest of them. Im getting into cliff horse territory with my selection here as im once again siding with We Have A Dream. I still think there’s more to come from him and have a feeling Cheltenham may bring out the best in him. It really is a conundrum for connections should he not run well again here.





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