With standing water having been evident on the track as recently as Thursday afternoon, races on Saturday promise to be real slogs through the mud and as such we’ve had to consider that in our thinking, along with class and how well handicapped the runners appear to be.
On all known evidence, we reckon these are the six to concentrate on in the BetVictor Gold Cup and with betting set to be competitive, there should be some cracking value to be had.
Belami Des Pictons
Venetia Williams’ 8yo gelding showed a clear liking for heavy ground when winning easily back in 2017 at Warwick and, ordinarily, we’d even expect more improvement from that novice performance.
Having come back from injury this season, Belami Des Pictons was thought of as being well handicapped and was sent off favourite for his comeback race at Sandown but pulled-up there, however we can expect him to strip much fitter this time and if fulfilling his potential, he has a great place chance.
Very well fancied for a race on Friday’s card, the fact that the ground is now heavy has gone even more in his favour although going over this extra four furlongs may not be ideal and it’s that fact that just tempers keenness in him to a degree.
Given that this race is simply a fallback and connections wanted to go over two miles we couldn’t back him to win with confidence, but at around 20/1 he’s a very fair each-way price given that it’s felt there are races of this nature in him this season.
With two wins and a second from 5 chase races, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 7yo is obviously going the right way and has handled soft ground (and heavy ground over hurdles) well enough.
This is his ideal trip; he’s won around Cheltenham before and is definitely not handicapped up to his best with his only negative being that he’s a little short in the market for a race like this having achieved what he has to date.
Touted heavily for this race for a while now, the ground is hugely in the 7yo’s favour and he absolutely fits into the category of ‘well handicapped’. In fact, we have no idea where his current ceiling is given how easily he won his course and distance novice chase on heavy ground, though of course this event is way more competitive.
His reappearance win came after a seven-month break and a wind operation, and we must remember that those improving significantly after an op or a break first time out don’t always follow that up with further improvement, so caution is advised at his short price.
Splash Of Ginge
Winner of this race in 2017, a liking for this ground and with no weight to carry, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ grand old chaser has an obvious chance of running into the money but it’s hard to say he could be backed with confidence to win this race these days.
We fancied this horse big time for the Sodexho Gold Cup at Ascot recently but it appears he rather needed the run that day, eventually weakening to finish 7th.
On reflection that wasn’t a bad performance at all and considering the ground there probably wasn’t soft enough for him (that’s not something we can say this time), he is fitter for the outing and it can be argued that his best form is over this 2½-mile distance, then sticking with Philip Hobbs’ 7yo is more than fair.
He reached a mark of 142 last year as a novice and, regardless of some subsequent below-par runs, as a young chaser with low mileage he is entitled to improve so racing in this off a mark of 137 makes him look particularly well treated in the weights.
As expected when handicapping this race, we found that a number of them are very close in terms of expected performance. Brelan D’As is not in his ideal race but is a big price and has an each-way chance, while Slate House could be anything and Belami Des Pictons has plenty of potential if fit enough to do himself justice.
The solid one with the most immediate potential in these conditions however is SPRINGTOWN LAKE, so we give Richard Johnson’s mount one more chance in a big Grade 3 Handicap chase.