Ben Linfoot was trackside as Baron Alco won the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham's November Meeting - replay a fantastic day's action at Prestbury Park here.
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1600: As the light begins to dim and just the mares' bumper to go we'll say goodbye now. I've got the Greatwood Hurdle Value Bet to finish and a video to record ahead of the Sky Bet Supreme Trial, as thoughts to Sunday after a terrific Saturday.
We'll be back blogging tomorrow, perhaps a little later, but join us then for all the action on Unibet Greatwood Hurdle day. Thanks for tuning in.
1549: The hurdles in the straight were dolled off (low sun) and that's probably played into the hands of good Flat horse SPEEDO BOY, who tanks into contention and just had to be kept us to his work up the hill.
That's a winner for Dave Ord's Nap of the Day, on the back of Baron Alco for Matt Brocklebank's Antepost Angle and Rock The Kasbah for Value Bet. Not a bad day, even if Romain De Senam did fall at the first (sshh).
RESULT - 3.30, BetVictor Intermediate Handicap Hurdle
1st Speedo Boy (4/1 jf)
2nd Mahlervous (28/1)
3rd Lungarno Palace (16/1)
1515: A really nice performance from FIRST ASSIGNMENT who backs up his win here at the October meeting as he streaks clear of Boyhood who beats Goodbye Dancer for second.
Buckle Street refused to race and Anteros unshipped Sean Houlian, the cheekpiece-clad but riderless 10-year-old, who won this race two years ago, the only one to give the winner a race.
It's also a good form boost for Value Bet selection Christmas In April ahead of the next, as he was a hampered third behind the winner last time and only went up 2lb.
RESULT - 3.00, Regulatory Finance Solutions Handicap Hurdle
1st First Assignment (6/4f)
2nd Boyhood (10/1)
3rd Goodbye Dancer (25/1)
1452: It was Willie Boy that fell at the top of the hill causing all sorts of carnage. I hope he's okay as he was going well at the time and he'd prefer it much softer. He could be one for the December Gold Cup if he returns unscathed.
1450: The first two.
1442: So that's why Benatar didn't run (only kidding). Jamie Moore, having ousted brother Josh from the horse earlier in the day, gives BARON ALCO a tremendous ride from the front and that was the place to be in this thrills and spills contest.
Drama in behind four out saw a stricken faller take out a few contenders and that allowed the Baron to bowl on at the front end.
The remarkable Frodon, running off a BHA mark of 161, loves the combination of Bryony Frost and this course and distance and he gave the winner most to do, but the Baron was not for passing in the closing stages.
Romain De Senam fell at the first before I'd even reached my viewing position. The highs and the lows. He passed the winning post first, riderless, with a circuit to go, and whoever caught him down after the finishing line deserves a big pat on the back as he had a look in his eye that said 'now I'm back off down the hill.'
RESULT - 2.25, Bet Victor Gold Cup
1st Baron Alco (8/1)
2nd Frodon (16/1)
3rd Guitar Pete (12/1)
4th Mister Whitaker (6/1f)
1420: Kalondra has drifted back out a bit now and is available at 7/1 in places in the ring the same price as Rather Be and Mister Whitaker. Will he even go off favourite?
Baron Alco and King's Socks are very strong at around 8/1.
1415: 10 minutes to the big one. It's not too late to back one and remember Sky Bet are paying SIX places on each-way bets!
1409: Happy champ.
1406: ROCK THE KASBAH wins the races under the champ and things just worked out lovely for him today. Coneygree, who returned with a smashing effort from the front end, set a nice gallop which RTK just sat off throughout before kicking on at the home turn.
They were queuing up to challenge in behind but this was a cracking bit of a race-riding from Richard Johnson, who took advantage of his position to win the race between the second last and last.
He had enough in reserve to see off Royal Vacation, who bounced back to form in second.
RESULT - 1.50, BetVictor.com Handicap Chase
1st Rock The Kasbah (9/1)
2nd Royal Vacation (14/1)
3rd Coneygree (12/1)
1342: The BetVictor.com Handicap Chase next and the return of 2015 Gold Cup hero Coneygree. Wouldn't it be great to see him ping around under Sean Bowen?
A watching brief is probably the sensible move and this is a really tricky contest with any number of old favourites in opposition.
Perfect Candidate won this race last year for Fergal O'Brien and Paddy Brennan, who had a stellar day yesterday, but the ground is probably better than he'd prefer this afternoon.
Vicente was second to him last year and will prefer the better ground this time around for the on-a-roll Paul Nicholls so you can see why he's been nibbled today.
As for bets, I've backed ROCK THE KASBAH in the hope he'll have come on plenty for that Chepstow run last time. He'll love the stamina test.
1333: Two from two for Paul Nicholls today. Romain De Senam 🙏 would just cap things off nicely for him.
1330: IBIS DU RHEU (25s for the RSA Chase with Sky Bet) makes the most of all that experience he's racked up as a winless-until-today novice to wear down the game and brave Theatre Territory.
The Worlds End disappointed as did Minella Awards but Theatre Territory jumped like a buck from the front and another foot-perfect leap at the last would've sealed matters on another day.
However, Ibis Du Rheu wasn't about to let go of this opportunity to get his first win over fences under his belt and few would say it wasn't a deserved success after many good efforts in defeat in tough races.
I meant to get a picture of them crossing the line, but, you know, I was cheering on the second. Just after is just as good, though, right?
RESULT - 1.15, mallardjewellers.com Novices' Chase
1st Ibis Du Rheu (11/2)
2nd Theatre Territory (8/1)
1310: It's the mallardjewellers.com novices' chase next, a race that always sparks an image of a duck in a pearl necklace.
It might be quackers to take on The Worlds End considering his chasing debut win at Chepstow last time, but with Theatre Territory getting 12lb I'm going to have a little tickle.
Talk from our new columnist, Warren Greatrex, of a nice piece of work on an away day with La Bague Au Roi has lured me in.
1300: Actually, considering how hard she tore off, Never Apart has done pretty well to finish as close as she did. I wouldn't give up on her yet. She's drifted out to 14s for the Triumph with Sky Bet and 18s with Paddy Power. Hmmmm. 🤔🤔🤔
1255: An interesting start to the afternoon as QUEL DESTIN wins for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden. That's only half the story as the drifting Never Adapt, backed for the Triumph itself in recent weeks, tore off up front, ripping Barry Geraghty's arms out for the first mile almost. It was no wonder she fell out of contention and the well-backed Montestrel dropped out quickly, too.
We're not sure what this form is worth then, but Cracker Factory ran his race under a penalty in second, and you can see how close he was to the winner who was beaten by Montestrel at Chepstow before winning at Kempton. He's on a bit of a roll now.
RESULT - 12.40, JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial
1st Quel Destin (100/30)
2nd Cracker Factory (3/1)
1239: We're nearly off for the first. All the best with your Cheltenham wagers this afternoon.
1230: A right old plunge on Movewiththetimes now as well in the big one. He's halved in price to 8/1 in places. IF he jumps he could win, but as the capitalisation suggests, it is a big IF. It wouldn't be the biggest of surprises, considering his connections, IF he did put it altogether today. Colour Squadron was a similar type back in 2013 and he DID put it altogether in this very race, but he still had to play second fiddle to Johns Spirit.
1225: Jamie Moore now rides Baron Alco, replacing Joshua. Cheers, bruv.
1218: Bloody hell. Everyone I have spoken to has seemingly backed Kalondra for the BetVictor Gold Cup today. I have missed the boat and he's too short (9/2) now isn't he? I might be bold and even leave him out of combo trifecta calculations for no other reason that his price is short and, if I'm going to cop a trifecta, I want to do it big style. #logic
1214: Romain De Senam 🙏 latest.
1212: Ground latest.
1210: A few market movers from Sky Bet now and the best-backed horse of the day is Montestrel in the first for Jane Williams.
A 20/1 winner at Chepstow last month, he's not anything like that sort of price today as he's been cut to 5/2 from 9/2 for the JCB Triumph Trial (12.40).
In the feature race, the BetVictor Gold Cup, in which Sky Bet are paying SIX places on each-way bets, King's Socks is the one for money (8s from 12s).
Meanwhile the top weight in the 3.30, Westend Story, is 9/2 from 7s.
1155: Here's Daryl Jacob about to go out for a jog. I was going to join him but I left my Sky Bet branded lycra at home so had to refrain unfortunately.
Anyway, he's very keen on Calett Mad this afternoon. Read all about it in his column by clicking on the picture...
1137: Gary Moore might've taken Benatar out but he still has a live chance in the BetVictor Gold Cup today with Baron Alco with son Joshua taking the reins.
The jockey says of his mount this afternoon: "Baron Alco's in good form. He has good form at the track and ran well at The Festival in March 2017. He seems to enjoy the fences and give it his best shot. He ran very well at Chepstow after a long break. He hadn't been over-trained for that Chepstow race and hopefully he can come forward from it.
"The ground should suit him. He is quite a versatile horse and it should be to his liking. You'd have to think he would have a very good chance. He is a solid horse and you know what you get with him. He gallops, jumps and tries - all of those attributes are required for a race like this."
I really like the Baron but thought he might get in a pace war today. With West Approach and Frodon and Rather Be likely to be up there as well he might not be able to dominate, but it's interesting that Moore says he 'hadn't been over-trained for that Chepstow race'.
1125: Nice chat with Rupert there, cut short for Peter Scudamore but if you're going to be ushered away quickly from a radio interview it may as well be for a jumps racing legend.
Talking of which, it sounds like One For Arthur, trained by Scudamore's partner Lucinda Russell, will reappear at Aintree next month not in the Becher but the Many Clouds Chase.
It will be great to see the Grand National hero back in action and on that note, isn't it great to see Coneygree strutting his stuff at the scene of his greatest triumph this afternoon?
What a swashbuckling Gold Cup win it was from him as a novice. It's a shame how things have gone for him since, but hopefully he can remind us of his talents this afternoon, even if the drying ground looks to have gone against him.
1055: If you're out and about today, why not follow the action on Cheltenham Radio? The dulcet tones of Rupert Bell at Prestbury Park will get you through that early Christmas shopping trip. Talking of which, I'm just off to find the great man for a quick chat.
1045: Tips, tips and more tips below...
1036: For more audio head to our Soundcloud page here. Our man with the mic, err Mike, has been chatting to Tom Scudamore, Neil Mulholland and Paul Nicholls ahead of the big one.
1027: If you'd rather listed than read here's a quick audio preview of today's racing featuring myself and Sky Bet's Michael Shinners, as news breaks live on air that Benatar is a non. I think you can tell who backed him antepost...
1015: Good morning everyone and welcome to our coverage live from Cheltenham on BetVictor Gold Cup day, the first biggie handicap of the jumps season. The mist is clearing and the sun is shining, while the ground is officially 'Good, Good to Soft in places'.
The key non-runner to report is Benatar (booooo) who is out of the BetVictor Gold Cup due to an official reason of 'Self cert, blood analysis not normal', just like two other of Gary Moore's horses, Il Re Di Nessuno in the first and Dell Oro in the penultimate contest.
Having backed Benatar it's not a great start to the day, but it's really nothing an impromptu combo trifecta and a lumpy each-way double can't solve. Hopefully.