David Ord provides an in-depth horse by horse guide to Saturday's Cheltenham feature handicap chase - the BetVictor Gold Cup.
US AND THEM (Joseph O'Brien)
Form: 222-U3 | Jockey: JJ Slevin
Second in the Racing Post Arkle at the Festival and runner-up at Aintree too in the spring. Shaped as though in need of run on return at Down Royal and potential improver given he’s a second-season chaser but he’ll need to progress to defy a mark of 152.
SIRUH DU LAC (Nick Williams)
Form: /1111 | Jockey: Lizzie Kelly
Four from four over fences last term, culminating with victory in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate here in March. Up nine pounds for that but he hasn’t finished improving yet and no surprise to see him go close with his form already franked by Janika this term.
SPIRITOFTHEGAMES (Dan Skelton)
Form: 14335- | Jockey: Harry Skelton
Third behind Siruh Du Lac here in March and six pounds better off for a three lengths defeat there. Another unexposed chaser and one who can go well although whether he has the same scope for progress as his March conqueror has to be open to question.
MAGIC SAINT (Paul Nicholls)
Form: 510F2- | Jockey: Harry Cobden
Looked one to follow in the spring when winning at Wincanton but could never land a blow in the Grand Annual. Didn’t happen for him at Ayr or Chepstow subsequently but the sort to go well fresh after a wind op in the summer. Step up in trip could suit this strong traveller.
SLATE HOUSE (Colin Tizzard)
Form: 4528-1 | Jockey: Robbie Power
Spectacular winner of Grade Two novice chase here in October and could be about to fulfil his potential. However, the handicapper raised him 12 pounds for that last success and he needs more here. He could deliver but this big field scenario is new to him over fences and whether he wants a searching gallop over two-and-a-half miles at Cheltenham remains to be seen.
BELAMI DES PICTONS (Venetia Williams)
Form: 1/2/P- | Jockey: Charlie Deutsch
Clearly amiss when pulling up on sole start at Sandown last term, he was restricted to one outing the previous campaign too – but it was a good one – shaking up Waiting Patiently at Carlisle. Yard have started the season well and there’s certainly a case to be made for him from a handicapping perspective but others have much more compelling recent profiles.
COUNT MERIBEL (Nigel Twiston-Davies)
Form: 1147-2 | Jockey: Mark Grant
Goes well here and shaped very encouragingly when chasing home the impressive Lostintranslation on his return at Carlisle. Needs a career best to win this but hinted it might be on the way in Cumbria and a big player for a yard that knows what it takes to win a BetVictor Gold Cup.
MERCIAN PRINCE (Amy Murphy)
Form: 71801- | Jockey: Jack Quinlan
Front-runner who won at Kempton and Plumpton last term. There’ll be other days for him this winter too but this is a very tough ask on his return.
HIGHWAY ONE O ONE (Chris Gordon)
Form: 3203-2 | Jockey: Tom Cannon
Ran well to split Kildisart and Spiritofthegames here in January and only a pound higher. However, he made little impact upped in grade for the Close Brothers in March and at his best when dominating his field – tactics that will be hard to employ here.
HAPPY DIVA (Kerry Lee)
Form: 31U2-2 | Jockey: Richard Patrick (3)
Good run behind Guitar Peter at Wetherby and admirably consistent sort. Was running well in this race last year when brought down four out and not one to draw a line through.
DEMI SANG (Ben Haslam)
Form: 144153 | Jockey: Richie McLernon
Been busy this summer and third in the Guitar Pete race at Wetherby last time but hard to fancy going up into this grade.
GUITAR PETE (Nicky Richards)
Form: /233-1 | Jockey: Ryan Day
Confidence boosting win at Wetherby last time wasn’t missed by the handicapper and a six pounds rise might well be enough to scupper him here. He’s now four above the mark from which was third to Baron Alco and Frodon in this last year.
EAMON AN CNOIC (David Pipe)
Form: 6149-0 | Jockey: Tom Scudamore
Overall record patchy and standout performance last season was three-and-a-half lengths fourth to Siruh Du Lac here in March. Not the easiest to predict but yard have terrific record in this and no surprise to see him cherry ripe for his return.
BRELAN D’AS (Paul Nicholls)
Form: 5135-U | Jockey: Barry Geraghty
Third in the Grand Annual last year and equally effective at his trip. In very good hands and just the sort to pop up in a race like this at some stage.
SPRINGTOWN LAKE (Philip Hobbs)
Form: 245P-7 | Jockey: Richard Johnson
Shaped as though just needing it when seventh to Vinndication at Ascot earlier this month but needs to take a leap rather than a jump forward from it to be competitive here.
DELL ORO (Gary Moore)
Form: 1P3P3- | Jockey: Joshua Moore
Useful on his day but clearly had issues and pulled up or finished last of three on last four starts. Can’t be backed with any confidence despite representing a shrewd team.
WARTHOG (David Pipe)
Form: /1P3P- | Jockey: David Noonan
Jumping let him down when pulling up in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham as it had when previously upped in grade at Kempton on Boxing Day. Looks in the grip of the handicapper – even with a clear round.
SPLASH OF GINGE (Nigel Twiston-Davies)
Form: 5P80-6 | Jockey: Jamie Bargary
Won this on a gloomy day in 2017 but the good days are very thin on the ground nowadays and few signs of encouragement can be taken from his recent spin at Wetherby.
BetVictor Gold Cup verdict:
A fascinating renewal. Slate House was undeniably impressive on his return at Cheltenham but the handicapper has had his say and this big-field scenario over the trip here asks a new question.
We know it's one Siruh Du Lac likes and he must be close to the top of any shortlist.
However, the vote goes to COUNT MERIBEL who ran a fine race behind Lostintranslation at Carlisle and is a potential improver.
Magic Saint can to well for Paul Nicholls as he goes up in trip, while Happy Diva is one for the shortlist too.
- COUNT MERIBEL
- Siruh Du Lac
- Magic Saint
- Happy Diva
- Slate House
1 Saint Calvados
13 Royal Village