Last updated March 1st, 2016
The 2m4½f Caspian Caviar Gold Cup features five of the first six home in Paddy Power Gold Cup so is an understandably tight betting heat (1.50pm Cheltenham, Saturday live on CH4).
Winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup, Annacotty (8/1) appears an obvious starting point. The Beneficial gelding was having his first start for trainer Alan King (pictured), and his first since April, when staying on well to beat Buywise (8/1) by half a length with Paul Nicholls’ Sound Investment (11/1) a further three-quarters of a length away in third.
A 5lb rise in the weights obviously makes life more difficult for Annacotty, but he is only 1lb worse off with the second and 2lb worse with the third, so has a major chance in an open-looking race.
Buywise has finished well on his last three starts at Cheltenham, all over this sort of trip, without having the pace to win. He is feasibly weighted once again and is bound to run well but he doesn’t inspire much confidence for win purposes.
Sound Investment appears versatile with regard to underfoot conditions, but it is interesting to note that he floundered on his one and only attempt beyond 2m5½f at Ascot last season. The going at Prestbury Park is already soft, with more rain forecast so if this becomes a slog through the mud then his stamina limitations may be exposed once again. It is also worth noting that the Paddy Power Gold Cup was his third run of the season, so he may lack the scope for improvement of Annacotty.
Irish Cavalier (8/1) has 6½ lengths to find with Annacotty on their running in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and is 5lb better off. However, he had previously returned to action with a comfortable win in an intermediate chase at Newton Abbot the previous month, so may struggle to reverse the form if Annacotty makes the anticipated improvement.
Champagne West (9/1) has the form to get involved and is fairly short odds for a horse who has not raced for almost a year. It is a sign that a good run is expected from a yard that can ready them first time.
Stablemate Village Vic (9/1) won easily at Musselburgh last time and although he is improving, the 7lb rise in this better company could be a stiff mark to overcome. He does only carry the 10st minimum.
Little Jon (9/1) is another with claims after a good victory at Newbury. He too is raised for that effort, by 6lb. However Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge is in good form and can not be ruled out.
It is almost heresy to say it but the Paul Nicholls yard is not quite firing at 100% just yet. While the aforementioned Sound Investment has claims, so would his apparent second-string Art Mauresque (11/1) on his best form. He was 6th in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and does have a 5lb pull for less than seven lengths, so expect him to finish closer this time.
Unlike many of his rivals, Annacotty went into the Paddy Power Gold Cup without a preparatory race, so could improve enough to confirm the form despite the revised ratings. The one question mark may be if he is the type who is best caught fresh first time out.
However he is fully effective under testing conditions, has an abundance of stamina and looks far from badly handicapped. Our betting tips advice is to back ANNACOTTY each-way for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at a best price 8/1 with Betfred or William Hill, both of which go ¼ odds the first four places in this 15-runner field.