BetVictor Gold Cup winner Taquin du Seuil misses tomorrow’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, leaving a field of 16 going to post for the £100,000 Handicap Chase. The gamble on Paul Nicholls’ Bouvreuil means the JP McManus owned gelding is the new 6/1 favourite with BetVictor to land a nice tough for connections under Barry Geraghty. Village Vic, a winner of the race 12 months ago, is 7/1 bidding to concede weight all round under Champion Jockey Richard Johnson, whilst the ever consistent Buywise is 10/1 to get his head in front sporting a first-time visor.
Cheltenham’s two-day International meeting kicks-off with a cracking 3m Novices’ Chase and Alan King’s Label Des Obeaux (12.20) expected to shed the maiden tag over fences. The selection scored at G2 level last term over timber, and made a promising chase debut when second to Harry Fry’s American last month at Exeter. He is entitled to build on that further and in receipt of 8lb from Harry Whittington’s Emerging Force, gets the nod to score under Richard Johnson.
The Champion Jockey can double-up aboard Sausalito Sunrise (1.30) conceding weight all round in the 3m 2f Handicap Chase. Philip Hobbs’ 8yo looked in need of the run when finishing down the field in last month’s BetVictor Handicap Chase at the track and should trip fitter to go close from a pound lower mark. He will appreciate the return to a sounder surface and remains a 50/1 chance with BetVictor for Grand National success at Aintree in the spring.
I was impressed by how well Yes I Did (12.55) jumped on her chase debut last month and think she can better that upped in grade for the Mares’ Handicap Chase. The 6yo was progressive for brothers Dan and Harry Skelton last season, winning over timber at Southwell, Sedgefield and Catterick, before making a seamless transition over the larger obstacles down at Fontwell. She should improve for the experience and reward each-way support from her chase mark of 124.
Alan King’s Midnight Maestro (3.45) created a favourable impression when making a winning debut last term at Doncaster and after making a winning debut over timber last time out at Warwick is a confident selection to maintain his unbeaten record under Barry Geraghty in the closing 2m Novices’ Hurdle. The well-bred son of Midnight Legend looks all speed and over the minimum trip gets the nod over the exciting pair of Sumkindofking and Gaitway who will both need further in time.
There’s a great supporting card at Doncaster where Alan King’s Big Chief Benny (1.40) is expected to go close under Tom Cannon at the latter. The selection was well supported in the market for his seasonal debut at Market Rasen when disappointing and jumping out to his left. The selection has yet to be out of the frame when going the other way round, including scoring over course and distance last season, and is a confident selection to score for the in-form yard of Alan King.
Lucinda Russell’s Settledoutofcourt (2.15) has tumbled down the weights during a disappointing 12 months but showed he was potentially returning to form last time out at Wetherby and can score from the foot of the weights in the 3m 2f Handicap Chase. The selection scored over the same trip from an 8lb higher mark last season at Catterick and is well-handicapped to go close under Dominic Fox.
Aliandy (2.50) looked in trouble before staying on powerfully to make a winning reappearance at Southwell and should be able to defy a 7lb rise at the weights. Kim Bailey’s gelding showed a tremendous attitude to get up under David Bass and must go close