The Cheltenham Gold Cup is, by many indicators, the biggest National Hunt race of the season. It’s not the only Gold Cup run at Cheltenham racecourse though. The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (also known as the December Gold Cup) has taken place annually at Cheltenham since 1963.
It’s a very different race to the Gold Cup though, as it is run over a distance of 2m4½f, includes 17 fences for the horses to overcome and is held at Grade 3 level. The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup is also a handicap and a very competitive one at that.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 12th December 2020
- Winner: Chatham Street Lad
- SP: 16/1
- Trainer: Michael Winters
- Jockey: Darragh O'Keeffe
The trip is 2m4½f for this Grade 3 Handicap Chase which is a winter highlight at the home of National Hunt racing. Also commonly known as the December Gold Cup, the race offers a rather significant £105,000 in total prize money and is set to be run on good to soft ground this year.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Good to Soft||2m4½f||Grade 3||£105,000||17 Runners||1/4 1-4|
Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Having been successful four times in the past 10 years, Paul Nicholls has five wins in total putting him out in front at the head of the trainers’ table in this event. Nicholls sends a trio of chasers to post this year in the shape of Master Tommytucker, Saint Sonnet and Southfield Stone.
We have six runners aged nine years or older set to go to post in 2020, a few of whom are pretty well fancied in the market. However, with each of the past 10 winners having been aged eight years old or younger, the recent stats are against them.
This hasn’t been the best of races for supporters of the market leader in recent times. In fact, it couldn’t have been any worse, with no winning jollies in the past decade. This nevertheless hasn’t been a race for huge shock results, with seven of the past 10 to come home in front having returned a single figure SP.
|Windsor Avenue||13/2||11st 3lbs||Brian Ellison||Brian Hughes|
|Cepage||15/2||11st 10lbs||Venetia Williams||Charlie Deutsch|
|Romain De Senam||16/1||10st 7lbs||Dan Skelton||Harry Skelton|
Windsor Avenue – 13/2
Currently vying for favouritism in most lists is the Brian Ellison-trained eight year old, Windsor Avenue, and it isn’t too hard to see why the market has latched on to this one. Having finished in the first two in 10 of his 12 career starts – including six wins – this son of Winged Love certainly scores top marks for consistency, with the fact that two of those victories have come in chase contests at around this trip also auguring well for his chance.
Making his debut over fences at Sedgefield in October of last year, he made a flying start to life over the larger obstacles in winning his first two starts by a combined 33 lengths and rising to a mark of 153. It all went wrong in two starts after that, but there were legitimate excuses – with the horse scoping dirty at Doncaster before appearing to stop very quickly prior to coming down at Haydock.
Sure enough a wind issue was found and treated over the winter, and if judged by his recent comeback at Carlisle, Windsor Avenue may now be ready to resume his upwards trajectory. No match for the talented Imperial Aura that day, he nevertheless had the likes of Brewin’upastorm and Black Op in behind in what rates a rock-solid comeback. Left on an unchanged mark of 148 for that effort, and set to be suited by the strong pace of this contest, he looks set to go well.
Cepage – 15/2
Venetia Williams has sent out the winner of this just the once in the past, when saddling Niceonefrankie to victory in 2014, but been responsible for two seconds, a third and a fourth in the intervening years, and does generally have her string in decent heart at this stage of the season. Going for the Hertfordshire handler this year is the horse responsible for two of those recent placed efforts in the race: Cepage.
This eight year old by Saddler Maker will certainly be no stranger to conditions, with each of his past four starts all having come at Prestbury Park. Second to proven Grade 1 performer Frodon off 143 in this race in 2018, he then finished a two and three quarter length fourth in the 2019 renewal when running off a mark of 155. Further emphasising his capability at the track when registering a half-length success over the course and distance in a Grade 3 here in January, from a similar mark of 154, he looks one of the more solid contenders to show their best on the day.
A rating of 155 for this clearly puts him right on the premises on what will be his first run for 277 days. Whilst that break can also be taken as a positive, with the gelding boasting form figures of 1222 on the back of a break of 100 days or more since joining Williams in 2016.
Romain De Senam – 16/1
The likes of Coole Cody, Master Tommytucker and Al Dancer are other obvious contenders, but have been well found by the market, and anyone looking for an each way punt at a double figure price may want to take a look at Romain De Senam from the bang in form Dan Skelton operation. Generally operating at around the 19% mark in terms of strike-rate, Skelton has hit the target with 30% of his runners over the past fortnight and it looks interesting that he relies solely on this ex-Paul Nicholls runner in this valuable event.
Despite his relative youth, this horse is a veteran of 27 chases now, which admittedly doesn’t make him the most obvious contender to be well handicapped. However, a closer look at his record suggests he may well be up to running a very big race getting in off 138 here. Certainly, if we take his most recent handicap success at face value, he would look to boast very strong claims, with that success seeing him beat the useful Tea For Two by a yawning 13 lengths at Newbury in March 2019 when running off 141.
He has admittedly been very up and down since, but has improved with every outing in his three starts since joining his current yard in September – progressing from a total no-show at Fontwell to a staying on fourth over two miles at Aintree last time out. Often at his best when held up, he should get a strong pace to aim at here and may not be too far away at the line. With a number of firms paying out each way on the first five, he’s worth considering.
Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Winners
|2020||Chatham Street Lad||16/1||Michael Winters||Darragh O'Keeffe|
|2019||Warthog||7/1||David Pipe||David Noonan|
|2018||Frodon||7/1||Paul Nicholls||Bryony Frost|
|2017||Guitar Pete||9/1||Nicky Richards||Ryan Day|
|2016||Frodon||14/1||Paul Nicholls||Sam Twiston-Davies|
|2015||Village Vic||8/1||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson|
|2014||Niceonefrankie||16/1||Venetia Williams||Aidan Coleman|
|2013||Double Ross||7/1||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Sam Twiston-Davies|
|2012||Unioniste||15/2||Paul Nicholls||Harry Derham|
|2011||Quantitativeeasing||6/1||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
About the December Gold Cup: Handicapping Highlight At Prestbury Park
For the majority of jumps racing fans, it is the Cheltenham Festival which represents the season’s ultimate destination. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, with the four-day bonanza representing one of the very best sporting events of the year for our money. There’s plenty of racing to be enjoyed before the big event comes around each season though, including a steady stream of quality fare from Cheltenham racecourse itself.
One of Cheltenham’s highlights of the winter months is this 2m4½ Grade 3 handicap chase affair, open to runners aged four and older. First run in 1963 when coming into being as the Massey Ferguson Gold Cup, the contest maintained this title until 1980, since when it has been backed by a variety of sponsors, including Boylesports and a spinal research charity, with Caspian Caviar taking over ahead of the 2014 renewal.
Held on the New Course and featuring 17 fences in all, the race regularly attracts runners from the Paddy Power Gold Cup which is run under similar conditions and held on the Old Course here in November.
Six to Eight Year Olds Dominate
Open to all runners aged four and older, the youngsters have tasted success only occasionally, with the Paul Nicholls-trained duo of Unioniste (2012) and Frodon (2016) being the only runners to defy their relative inexperience and score at four years of age.
As we can see from the above chart though, it is the six to eight year old age bracket which has dominated in this contest, with 80% of the winners between the years of 1963 and 2019 falling into this category.
Nicholls Has Golden Touch
The list of leading trainers is headed by two greats from yesteryear, and two of the most successful handlers in modern times. Gordon Richards and Fred Winter won’t be adding to their haul now, but fellow three-time winner Nicky Henderson may well do, and could yet threaten the all-time lead held by his major rival on the British training scene.
It is the name of 11-time British Champion trainer Paul Nicholls which currently heads the table here. Successful four times in Cheltenham’s most famous of all the races at The Festival in March, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Nicholls has done even better in this race, with the victory of Frodon in 2018 being his fifth in total.
Frodon deserves special mention here, with that 2018 success being his second in this race, making the future Ryanair Chase champ just the second dual winner of this ultra-competitive event. The first to achieve that feat was Poquelin who landed back to back renewals in 2009 and 2010. The trainer of Poquelin? None other than Paul Nicholls.
Bolt The Best Of The Lot
The greatest ever winner in the history of this race came relatively early in its lifespan, in the shape of Tom Dreaper’s 1965 victor, Flyingbolt. In addition to a victory in this race under the welter-burden of 12st6lb, the impressive chestnut also registered victories in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Irish Champion Hurdle, the Arkle Challenge Trophy, the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Irish Grand National.