Saturday 16th November 2019
Author: Jordan Yates
Images: Jordan Yates
The BetVictor Gold Cup takes centre stage at Cheltenham this Saturday in what looks certain to be very testing conditions. The Grade 3 Handicap Chase is ridden over a distance of two miles and four furlongs and takes place at 2:25, it’s considered as one of the most competitive handicaps of the season.
Heading the market for this year’s renewal of the race at a general 11/2 is the Colin Tizzard trained Slate House who’s the mount of Robbie Power. He’s a horse that has been well thought of since he got off the mark here a couple of years ago but things didn’t quite go to plan after that. He’s since had a wind op and went on to score an eleven length victory here last month at the October meeting, which has resulted in a significant rise in the weights. Sitting just behind him currently in the betting is Siruh Du Lac for Nick Williams and Lizzie Kelly. He’s won his last four races including two major handicaps at this track one coming at The Festival. The Skelton’s are represented in the race by Spiritofthegames who’s currently trading at around the 15/2 mark. He was three lengths behind Siruh Du Lac when finishing third at The Festival here in March however was well beaten in Grade 1 company the time after that at Aintree.
Joseph O’Brien sends Us And Them to take his place in the line-up. He was the runner-up in last season’s Arkle and followed that up with another placed effort at Aintree. He put in a decent enough showing on his seasonal reappearance when third in a Grade 2 Chase at Gowran Park and can be found at a general 8/1 on the back of that effort for this particular affair. J J Slevin is in the saddle. Nigel Twiston-Davies has a couple of representatives in the field here the first of these and most prominent in the betting is the seven-year-old Count Meribel. He seemingly struggled within Graded company last term however reappeared with a sold second behind a potentially smart sort at Carlisle. You can find him trading at around 9/1. The other of Nigel’s runners come in the form of the likable Splash Of Ginge who’s the mount of Jamie Bargary. He’s not the most consistent these days which reflects in his sizeable price however he did win this race off four pounds higher back in 2017.
Richard Johnson will be aboard the Phillip Hobbs trained Springtown Lake here who’s around the 11/1 mark in the betting. His form tailed off slightly towards the end of last season but he did put in a respectable effort here at The Festival and wasn’t totally disgraced on reappearance at Ascot earlier in the month. Venetia Williams is a trainer who’s horses are renowned for going well in the mud and she’s represented here by Belami Des Pictons. He’s certainly one of the most interesting runners in the field having only had one run since November 2017, that came at Sandown in February and he was pulled-up due to bleeding from the nose. Happy Diva represents the Kerry Lee yard here and this is one of the most consistent horses in training, she was brought down when seemingly go well in this race last year but bounced back with another fine effort in second here on New Year’s Day. Her reappearance run earlier in the month at Wetherby was another fine effort in second. Guitar Pete was the horse that got the better of Kerry Lee’s mare the last day at Wetherby and he’s another very consistent performer. He always seems to run his race in big handicaps at this track and he’ll be a popular each-way play with punters at around 16/1 again for Nicky Richards and Ryan Day.
David Pipe has two runners in the race with the first string looking to be Eamon An Cnoic who’s the mount of Tom Scudamore. Sitting in the betting at the 16/1 mark he disappointed at both Aintree and Punchestown but was a solid fifth in this race last year and ran a big race when fourth here in a major handicap at The Festival. Warthog also represents Pipe here at the much more sizeable price of 33/1, he was last seen when pulling up in the four-miler here in March and has since had a second wind operation in the summer. Paul Nicholls also has a couple of runners in the race and the first of these is Magic Saint who looks to be the first string under Harry Cobden. He’s still a young horse and despite his form from last season looking a little patchy he still looks relatively unexposed. Concluding the Ditcheat representatives is Brelan D’As who sports the McManus silks under Barry Geraghty. He was last seen when unseating here at the October meeting but is a horse that will relish the likely testing conditions.
Highway One O One is a smart front runner on his day and has run two solid races around here this year, he’s around the 20/1 mark for this and will be ridden by Tom Cannon. Mercian Prince represents Amy Murphy here and was a winner of handicaps in calmer waters last season, he does act on heavy though and has had a wind operation during the summer. Demi Sang & Dell Oro conclude the field at the bottom of the market for Ben Haslam and Gary Moore and can both be found generally at around the 50/1 mark.
One of the most competitive races of the season of which a lot of luck, stamina, and ability are needed for you to play a meaningful part. The Irish haven’t got the greatest of record in this race however I think US AND THEM can change that for Joseph O’Brien. He’s a classy sort that is arguably a level above many of these, he was very consistent last year at the top level in Novice company and the fitness he will of gained from his outing at Gowran Park last month will stand him in very good stead for the test that lies ahead here. Venetia Williams’ horses were made for this kind of test so I think the interesting Belami Des Pictons could run a mighty race here. Slate House was very impressive the last day here and if turning up in the same form should be thereabouts albeit this being a whole different proposition. One that I think can go well at a big price is Brelan D’As, he was going well enough when unseating here last month and will relish the going. Stamina shouldn’t be an issue either. Happy Diva almost always runs her race and would be no surprise should she do so once more here and reach the frame.
1st: US AND THEM (8/1)
2nd: BELAMI DES PICTONS (11/1)
3rd: SLATE HOUSE (6/1)
4th: BRELAN D’AS (25/1)
5th: HAPPY DIVA (16/1)