The 2m5f Caspian Caviar December Gold Cup has less strength in depth for a 13-runner handicap chase than might first appear (2pm Saturday, Cheltenham, live on Channel 4).
Improving Caid Du Berlais (7/2), winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup Chase over 2m4½f on the Old Course at Cheltenham four weeks ago, understandably heads the betting.
Trainer Paul Nicholls’ (pictured) five-year-old was having just his fourth race over fences when staying on strongly to beat Johns Spirit in the Paddy Power, so appears to hold every chance off a 5lb higher mark. He won on the prevailing good going at Exeter last December, so faster underfoot conditions are unlikely to harm his chances, but whether he represents any value at the odds on offer is debatable.
Barrakilla (6/1), too, has had just four starts over fences, winning a novice chase at Warwick last December on his third attempt and finishing third, beaten 4½ lengths, behind Sound Investment on his reappearance at Sandown five weeks ago.
Barrakilla is 10lb better off for the 1½ lengths he beat No Buts (7/1) when they were 3rd and 4th respectively at Sandown. David Bridgwater’s No Buts has since reversed the form with Sound Investment in no uncertain terms at Newbury and looks to have improved, so there may not be much between them. No Buts has done all his winning on soft or heavy going, so Barrakilla may have the upper hand if the going remains good.
Attaglance (10/1) was an unlucky loser in the Rewards4Racing Novice Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last season, but the fact he is fourth choice in the betting seems to suggest a dearth of proven, progressive or promising horses in the race. That said, he is not badly handicapped on his hurdles form, acts on good going and by no means ran badly on his reappearance at Market Rasen in September.
Looking slightly further down the odds, Ericht (11/1) finished a decent third to Johns Spirit on his penultimate start, but disappointed in the Paddy Power. He hails from Nicky Henderson’s suddenly bang in-form yard but is still probably best watched here.
Niceonefrankie (12/1), trained by Venetia Williams, has been raised 13lb since his Ascot win in November. Quite what he achieved in thrashing the 11-year-old veteran King Edmund is open to debate but Niceonefrankie has an improving profile from a yard in form.
Darna (14/1) was a facile winner at Sedgefield last month on his first start for over two years, but steps up in class off a 10lb higher mark. Trainer Kim Bailey boasts a 25% strike-rate this jumps season.
If you ignore his last awful run then Philip Hobbs’ Carrigmorna King (16/1) would have a squeak. However he has been raised 10lb since that penultimate Stratford victory and looks in the handicapper’s grip.
Easter Meteor (14/1) has more ability than recent form figures might suggest. The David Pipe yard is flying at the moment and some of their winners are getting heavily backed. If this one came in for strong support it could be significant, but he has the profile of a horse that may have had problems. Only if he gets backed into around 8/1 then maybe think about joining in.
Edgardo Sol (16/1) is on a losing run of 15 races and remains 6lb higher in the weights than when last winning. Tatenen (20/1) will have needed his last run and has won off a higher mark than this, albeit in 2012. He is hardly improving, being on the cusp of turning 11 years old and makes only limited appeal. Splash of Ginge disappointed last time but could have place claims in a weak race based on his prior Cheltenham victory.
December Gold Cup Betting Tips Conclusion
This is not the strongest renewal of the December Gold Cup with little strength in depth. The numbers are made up by largely creditable chasers that the handicapper has hold of.
The favourite Caid Du Berlais will understandably have his supporters. Because of his style of running last time, coming fast and late to nail the Paddy Power Gold Cup by a narrow margin, the handicapper could not punish him. So Caid Du Berlais is certainly capable of defying the 5lb rise against this field.
Another with an upwardly mobile profile is No Buts. However we pass him over in favour of Evan Williams’ lightly-raced seven-year-old BARRAKILLA, who recorded a career-best effort at Sandown on his reappearance. With the prospect of further improvement to come, our December Gold Cup betting tips advice is to back Barrakilla each-way at best odds of 6/1 with Bet365, Skybet, Betfred, Paddy Power, William Hill or Betfair Sportsbook.