Saturday, 12 December 2015

Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Day

The going changed to soft prior to racing at Cheltenham on Friday and this didn't suit a number of Paul Nicholls horses. He isn't overly confident about his Saturday chances for all of his runners and neither is Dan Skelton - both seem to think they are being held to ransom by the handicapper - but we will see if this is true come the end of racing. That said there has been no rain over night but there is 5/6mm forecast during the day.

Paul Nicholls
12.05 - Adrien Du Pont won on his debut for the stable after being awarded the race when a short head second to the useful Sceau Royal the pair being 16 lengths clear of Shy Lino and he faces both of them again today. Sceau Royal has had a couple more runs since so is that more experienced this time but Adrien Du Pont hasn't stood still according to Nicholls and he will love the going, which is more than can be said for a lot of the stables runners. He might have trouble settling as being just a 5 runner affair there may be a muddling pace from the start- however he has loads of ability and although he is a potential chaser of the future he should continue to run well over hurdles.

12.40 - Sametegal a former useful hurdler being placed in the Triumph and Greatwood hurdles won impressively at Huntingdon on his debut over fences under Nick Schofield after a long absence(599 days) with a leg injury. Paul Nicholls was thrilled to see him return in such sparkling form and loved his fluent jumping. He then contested a Grade 2 novice at Newbury where he unseated at the 11th fence after being hampered. He probably needs better ground and has his work cut out against More Of That.

1.15 - Ulck Du Lin returned to the fray at Ascot in a race he won 12 months earlier but this time he was 15lb higher and was consequently pulled up. He has been dropped a 1lb but Nicholls doesn't think he is well handicapped at the moment and in any event he doesn't act on soft going and in all probability wont run.

1.50 - Sound Investment just keeps on giving more and consequently the life is slowly being crushed out of him by the handicapper. His run in the Paddy Power Gold Cup off top weight was as good a run as we've seen from a Nicholls runner this season. He shoulders 11-12 again here and he may have to give second best to the Cheltenham hill although you wouldn't put it past him to improve further and be placed.

1.50 - Art Mauresque had smart Juvenile form in France before joining this stable. Ran 4 times winning 3 - albeit against small fields. His chase rating is now 147. He usually wears a tongue tie, jumps really well and is suited by better ground. He finished 3rd to Irish Cavalier at Newton Abbot on his first run back after 5 months and he was 6th in the Paddy Power were he had every chance approaching the last. The going may have gone against him here if he runs and he may fill a similar position as in the Paddy Power again.

3.00 - Old Guard goes for his third win at Cheltenham this season. He has progressed well and thus he is now into Graded class so he has it all to do on going that is softer than ideal for him. A horse with plenty of speed he should run well but it's a tricky race that I will be leaving alone.

12.55 - Bugsie Malone has been given plenty of time and is a chaser of the future but for now he goes in novice hurdles. He needs experience but won't be risked on bad ground and if he does run it's probably a watching brief.

2.40 - It's A Close Call graduated from point to points. He started the season at Chepstow in a novice chase which he duly won by 17 lengths from Abracadabra Sivola. That win was on good ground which he acts on and if the going gets any softer he will not be running. It was reported that he wasn't fully wound up at Chepstow so his win was a bonus but he took a while to recover too. He has little mileage on the clock, he is a sound jumper and there is plenty of improvement to come it would seem.

Dan Skelton
1.15 - Workbench's last two wins have come at Fontwell in the same race and he has never won in a field of more than 7 runners. He likes decent ground which he won't get here. He ran a very good race when 2nd to Boondooma at Cheltenham off a handicap mark of 137h and that rival could be the best horse in Pritchard's yard. Workbench was then a bit disappointing at Ascot where he faded out of contention before 2 out to finish 6th. He is off 141 here and given the soft going I think he will either not run or struggle on it.

12.20 - Le Bacardy  returned at Aintree in the Old Roan Chase where he finished 6th after a couple of errors. He's a 9yo so he is unlikely to find any more improvement and is considered to be a spring horse in any event. He has to be held up over this sort of distance and is best produced late. He was pulled up in a decent race at Cheltenham and was then brought down at Doncaster but he is steadily dropping down the handicap - but the question is, is it enough.

2.05 - Fouburg is a full brother to Fou Et Sage and he has plenty of jumping experience from his time in France and is said not to be without pace. Being inexperienced he was expected by me to come of second best to Who Dares Wins at Ludlow on his first start and he did, but only just as he was headed in the final 50 yards. It was a very promising debut and he looks to be an above average sort but he meets his Ludlow rival again and this is a potentially hot Grade 2 juvenile hurdle but he should improve a fair bit.

3.15 - Boss Des Mottes won a competitive Class 3 handicap hurdle at Fakenham in March off a mark of 114h. He is said to like a fast run race and he should get that here and he was a good 4th of 12 in the Free Handicap at Chepstow over 2m on good going. He's had excuses for some of his poorer runs in the past and he holds an ew chance.

No bets from me today but you can make your own judgement's from the information above.

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