David Ord has a horse-by-horse guide to Saturday's Caspian Caviar Gold Cup and tips at 25/1 and 16/1.
FRODON: Tough, genuine and a credit to connections, he produced a career-best to chase home Baron Alco under top weight in the BetVictor Gold Cup. He’s three pounds better off for a two lengths beating with that rival but his own mark continues to creep up and he’s vulnerable to potential improvers down below.
BARON ALCO: May have had the run of the race last time but hard to fault his effort, racing and jumping with enthusiasm and finding plenty from the last. He’s sure to give another good account despite a six-pound hike.
RATHER BE: Runner-up in the Close Brothers at the Festival and tanking along when brought down four out in the BetVictor. Clearly there was still a long way to go but he appeals as a progressive and well handicapped young chaser from the champion trainer’s yard. Clearly a fair few boxes ticked but already short enough in the market.
WAR SOUND: Impressive reappearance win at Aintree confirmed all of last season's promise, when he proved frustratingly hard to win with. Clearly respected but the handicapper didn’t miss him post-Liverpool, and ten pounds more in a warmer race might mean he’s up against it.
COBRA DE MAI: Somehow finished fourth at Ascot last time having looked laboured and almost tailing off at one stage and won previous start at Stratford. In very good hands but will need a slicker round of jumping to stay in touch with these.
MR MEDIC: Off for 11 months before winning at Ascot last time where he characteristically travelled and fenced well. Needs to back that up and more from a nine pounds higher mark in this better race.
CEPAGE: Useful performer who picked up a valuable pot at Kempton in March and ran well here on his final start of last campaign. Fitness has to be taken on trust for his reappearance here though and a tendency to make mistakes is always a worry in this company.
CASABLANCA MIX: Stablemate of Rather Be and talented performer in her own right but unproven in this big-field handicap scenario and while she didn’t stay the extended three miles at Market Rasen last time, she is five pounds higher than when beaten by Copain De Classe on her Kempton reappearance.
FULL GLASS: Plenty of promise in only two starts in Britain, third in a warm Ayr handicap in the spring and unseating four out when running well in a graduation chase at Haydock. Held in high regard and looks handicapped to go very close if he gets his ground – and heavy rain is forecast to hit before racing on Friday. If it does he shoots up the shortlist on the pick of his form in France.
CATAMARAN DU SEUIL: Impressive at Wetherby on his return and warrants a crack at a race of this nature but fell at the sixth in the Grand Sefton at Aintree last week which is hardly the ideal preparation.
SPLASH OF GINGE: Another one that’s hard to predict although far more bad days than good ones since winning last year’s BetVictor, including when pulling up in this season’s renewal.
CASSE TETE: Represents the Baron Alco team and feasibly handicapped, five pounds higher than when winning well at Warwick last season, but unseated at Ascot last time and his overall profile isn’t convincing.
ROMAIN DE SENAM: Unseated at the first in the BetVictor and while ten pounds better off with War Sound for their run at Aintree, he has 25 lengths to make up. Trained by Paul Nicholls which is the main thing he has going for him.
FOXTAIL HILL: Well backed to take advantage of a plummeting handicap mark and win the race at the November meeting he landed in 2017 – but had to settle for third behind Modus. It was a fair return but not one he’s guaranteed to progress from.
GUITAR PETE: Last year's winner who got going too late when creditable third behind Baron Alco at the last meeting. A pound out of the handicap if Frodon runs but should be on the premises again.
It's easy to make a case for Rather Be but he's already 10/3 and Baron Alco and Frodon must be considered after their BetVictor heroics. Last year's winner Guitar Pete will also be on the premises but FULL GLASS remains completely unexposed in this country. His run at Ayr last season suggests he's on a mark he can win a good pot from, and if the forecast rain arrives Friday night and through race day, then his chance increases.