December Gold Cup Handicap Chase Betting Tips

December Gold Cup Handicap Chase Betting Tips

The December Gold Cup is one of the premier two-mile, four-furlong handicap chases of Cheltenham’s season. The form of this race can have a huge impact on the upcoming festival and its related betting markets.

12 runners are due to take part this time around, all gunning for their share of a £130,000 prize pot. The field is tasked with taking on 17 of the New Course’s fences which will be some undertaking this year.

While no race was possible last year, horses such as Coole Cody and Frodon are among recent top-notch December Gold Cup winners.

In looking to emulate them, Fakir D’Oudairies is topweight for JP McManus but the owner may have more luck with So Scottish who makes our shortlist of six horses.

Main Contenders

Frero Banbou

Although only eight, Frero Banbou is now a veteran of 20 chase races. Since reaching his peak in early 2022, he has arguably been going backwards since which gives us a conundrum to solve.

If he is regressing, we can hardly rely on him in such a huge handicap. On the other hand, he’s improved from race to race this season so far and now another step forward can see him outrun his odds under jockey Charlie Deutsch.


Fugitif is another eight-year-old, this time trained by Richard Hobson. His return in the Paddy Power Gold Cup over on the Old Course was totally satisfactory and now he should be spot-on for a crack at this prize.

His best form is all over Cheltenham’s 2m4f courses and on the sort of ground he’ll encounter this weekend, so excuses are limited. He has finished first or second in six of 12 chase races thus far, is fit and well and is handicapped OK. A big run must be on the cards.

Il Ridoto

We may have mentioned this before, but Il Ridoto feels much older than six and it seems like he’s been around forever. He’s experienced, but we’re still convinced that his best chasing days are to come.

Paul Nicholls’ runner, much like Fugitif, made a nice return to action here last month and so again he should be as fit as he can possibly be for this assignment. He’s actually been dropped a pound in the handicap and he can now be considered genuinely well handicapped. Bryony Frost rides.


Monmiral has been strongly backed this week, the choice of Harry Cobden for Paul Nicholls ahead of Il Ridoto. In truth, those backers are going on faith.

Monmiral is 0-3 over fences and hasn’t been seen since his seventh at Aintree in spring. He’s had a wind operation since then which may help him.

A mark of 145 might underestimate this horse if he’s at his best on Saturday, but those outside of the Nicholls camp will have to simply wait and see.

So Scottish

JP McManus, Emmet Mullins and Mark Walsh team up with So Scottish and their charge is another to have attracted strong money in the build-up to this race.

A clear talent, there’s a feeling that there’s been some careful looking after of So Scottish’s handicap mark. He was uninspiring on his return this season, but wasn’t backed to do any better suggesting a win was not expected.

He faced a similar task to this one in the Plate at the festival in March but, in truth, he’ll need to improve on what he did there to win here.

Thunder Rock

Olly Murphy’s Thunder Rock has been very strongly fancied for this race since his latest win in November.

Back then at Carlisle, he was impressive in beating Mahler Mission in a Listed event after which his handicap mark for this race was untouched. It’s felt, including by us, that this makes him very nicely handicapped.

Based on his overall career progression so far we think he can run to a mark somewhere in the mid-150’s now. Considering he’s in here off 146, he could very well be weighted to score before moving up in grade. Sean Bowen is on board.


Both Frero Banbou and Il Ridoto remain of interest in races like this, but won’t be carrying our money this time.

Make no mistake, if Monmiral is as good as people at his yard appear to think he is then he could be very well in. He’s worth keeping an eye on in the market. We cannot ignore the chances of THUNDER ROCK however and ultimately he gets the vote.

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