The pick of this Saturday’s racing action comes from Cheltenham racecourse, as the Prestbury Park venue plays host to the second day of the always excellent November Meeting. The first day was been lost to heavy rainfall but the outlook is better for day two. Taking centre stage on the now eight race card is this ultra-competitive handicap contest.
The top trainers in the game tend to be attracted to Cheltenham for this big early season pot, and it has proven difficult for the smaller operations to break through over the years. This time around will we see the prize again falling to one of the big yards?
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: 16th November 2019
- Winner: Happy Diva
- SP: 14/1
- Trainer: Kerry Lee
- Jockey: Richard Patrick
2m4f is the trip for this Grade 3 Handicap Chase contest which offers £160,000 in total prize money. The ground at the track is currently described as heavy, looking set to bring the stamina of this year’s contenders firmly into play. There is an inspection due at the track at 3pm on Friday so fingers crossed!
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Heavy||2m4f||Grade 3||£160,000||18 Runners||1/4 1-4|
BetVictor Gold Cup Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from the last running of the race. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Any fears that the bottomless conditions at the track this year would see a poor turnout for the big one look to have been largely unfounded. We won’t have a maximum field of 20 this year, but 18 do still stand their ground at the overnight stage, in what looks to be as competitive a renewal as ever.
Legendary jumps trainer Martin Pipe just about made this race his own during his illustrious career, landing the prize on a record setting eight occasions. Martin’s son David Pipe did his bit to keep the family tradition going when saddling Great Endeavor to victory in 2011 and sends Eamon An Cnoic and Warthog into battle this time around.
Of the trainers represented this year it is Nigel Twiston-Davies who boasts the best record with four previous wins in the race – including two in the past eight years. 2017 winner Splash Of Ginge and Count Meribel fly the flag for the Naunton handler in 2019.
We have had just the one winning jolly here in the past decade – handing a 3.5pt loss to favourite backers. Considering the competitive nature of the event, those towards the head of the market have fared pretty well overall though, with eight of the past 10 winners returning an SP of 12/1 or shorter.
It has proven to be relatively tough to lump a big weight around here in recent times, with only two of the past 10 to come home in front being saddled with more than 11st on the day. Given the testing conditions, will a light weight prove to be an advantage once again?
SLATE HOUSE – 9/2
Colin Tizzard has landed many big races over the course of his career, but not yet this one. If the market is to be believed, that may well change this year, as it is his seven year old Slate House who currently heads the betting.
Always held in high regard, this son of Presenting never really achieved what was expected over hurdles following a good win in a Grade 2 at this track back in 2017. It does seem that he has had his health issues though, with the now seven year old undergoing a second wind procedure ahead of the current campaign.
We do have just the one race to go on, but the early evidence would suggest that that second wind-op may well have worked the oracle. Brought back to the track in a Class 2 Novice event over this course and distance in October, he made a mockery of the opposition to saunter clear for an 11 length success. That took his overall record at this venue to three wins from six starts, and whilst he does get a 12lb rise for that, the handicapper could do little else really, and a mark of 147 may not be beyond him.
SIRUH DU LAC – 5/1
Another runner who knows how to win around here is the Nick Williams-trained Siruh Du Lac. Having claimed top spot in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate at the Festival here in March, this six year old is also no stranger to doing it on the big stage.
The mount of Lizzie Kelly does get a 9lb hike in the handicap for that spring success, but with the second that day, Janika, since scoring in good style in Grade 2 company, the form looks solid. A burden of 11st3lb does take him just outside the ideal weight range for the race, but his rider does still have a valuable 3lb claim to assist in that regard.
Overall there’s plenty to like about this one, with the fact that this will be his first run of the season being of little concern considering he won in good style first time up last year. The ground however may be a slight issue. Three times a winner on soft, he was beaten out of sight on his only start on heavy. There may have been reasons other than the ground for that, but it does pose something of a question.
SPIRITOFTHEGAMES – 7/1
Another well worth a look is the Dan Skelton representative, Spiritofthegames. Last sighted finishing practically tailed off in a Grade 1 at Aintree, the fact that he has undergone a wind-op in the interim suggests that something may well have been amiss that day.
If we go back to his previous effort in the aforementioned Brown & Merriebelle Advisory Stable Plate, he would look to have as good a chance as any on the formbook. Beaten just three lengths into third by Siruh Du Lac that day - when doing much the best of those to come from off the pace - he finds himself 6lbs better off with the Nick Williams runner here.
One of the main selling points about this one though is his record when fresh. A winner first time up in each of the last three seasons – including when hacking up in a Listed Novice event last term – it would seem that his first run of the season may well be the time to catch him. Heavy ground is an unknown quantity, but he does handle soft well enough.
BetVictor Gold Cup Winners
|2019||Happy Diva||14/1||Kerry Lee||Richard Patrick|
|2018||Baron Alco||8/1||Gary Moore||Jamie Moore|
|2017||Splash Of Ginge||25/1||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Tom Bellamy|
|2016||Taquin Du Seuil||8/1||Jonjo O’Neill||Aidan Coleman|
|2015||Annacotty||12/1||Alan King||Ian Popham|
|2014||Caid Du Berlais||10/1||Paul Nicholls||Sam Twiston-Davies|
|2013||Johns Spirit||7/1||Jonjo O’Neill||Richie McLernon|
|2012||Al Ferof||8/1||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh|
|2011||Great Endeavour||8/1||David Pipe||Timmy Murphy|
|2010||Little Josh||20/1||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Sam Twiston-Davies|
It may not be the most prestigious Gold Cup run at Cheltenham but the BetVictor Gold Cup is not a contest lacking in reputation. Many view the feature race of November’s Open Meeting as being a highly informative handicap for the season ahead. The chase is contested over a distance a touch further than two and a half miles with all horses aged four and above eligible to compete.
Initially sponsored by Mackeson in 1965 when first introduced, the event has been run under several different guises since. Many of you may know this race as the Paddy Power Gold Cup but the Irish bookmakers pulled their support in 2015 with BetVictor taking their place a year later. Sponsorship helps keeps this handicap a valuable one with a prize of £160,000 offered in 2019, a handsome tally for a Grade 3 race.
DECENT RETURNS ON OFFER
Horses outside of the top three in the betting half won nearly half of all BetVictor Gold Cup renewals since 2002. As a result the average starting price of champions in this time is close to 10/1, making it an attractive race for the punters. It’s a price that would be a lot shorter though if those at the very top of the betting could perform more regularly. Favourites haven’t fared well in recent years, Tranquil Sea the last to do the business back in 2009 at odds of 11/2.
COURSE WIN AN ADVANTAGE
You’ll struggle to find a horse without some form of Cheltenham experience on the racecard for this Gold Cup challenge. Former course wins are not as commonplace though. Out of the 17 runners that took part in the 2019 renewal only five had previously enjoyed success at Cheltenham.
In the renewal prior to that in 2018, seven horses, just over a third the field, boasted a ‘C’ next to their name. Despite usually being outnumbered, those with a New or Old Course win have been first past the post 12 of the last 18 instances of this race. Happy Diva in 2019 and Baron Alco in 2018 became the latest exceptions to the rule but both had twice finished as runners-up previously at Cheltenham.
David Pipe will be hoping he can replicate his father’s unrivalled success in this race but it will take some doing. His dad Martin secured his first Gold Cup winner in 1987 before another seven followed during a dominant 10 year period between 1996 and 2005. Retiring a year after his final winner, the mantle was passed to David and it didn’t take too long for him to get off the mark. Great Endeavour’s win is only time Pipe junior has struck gold in this race though despite his regular presence. As you can see by efforts since, Pipe is in need of some more inspiration if he’s going to close on his dad’s record.
DAVID PIPE’S BETVICTOR GOLD CUP RECORD: 2011 – 2019
|2019||Eamon An Cnoic||16/1||Tom Scudamore||Unseated Rider|
|2018||Eamon An Cnoic||50/1||David Noonan||Fifth|
|2018||King’s Socks||12/1||Tom Scudamore||Unseated Rider|
|2016||Ballynagour||33/1||Tom Scudamore||Pulled Up|
|2015||Kings Palace||13/2 F||Tom Scudamore||Eleventh|
|2014||Easter Meteor||12/1||Tom Scudamore||Pulled Up|
|2013||Ballynagour||8/1||Tom Scudamore||Pulled Up|
|2012||Grands Crus||7/4 F||Tom Scudamore||Pulled Up|
|2011||Great Endeavour||8/1||Timmy Murphy||Winner|
IMPERIAL COMMANDER COMPLETES GOLD CUP DOUBLE
BetVictor Gold Cup participants rarely go on to hit an elite level although many do enjoy a decent degree of success. It’s not often you ever see them wind up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup later in their career but Imperial Commander was a horse unlike most others. Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, the successful chaser claimed his first notable victory in 2008 when winning this race. One season later he then took part in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, priced only behind Kauto Star and Denman in the betting. There he scooped a hugely prestigious win, making him the only horse ever to win both these particular Gold Cups.