Check out our horse-by-horse guide to Saturday's Coral Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Newbury.
When: 3.05, Saturday November 26
Where: Newbury Racecourse
First prize: £142,375
TV: ITV3 & Racing TV (Sky channel 426)
Stable looks to be coming to life in good time for this meeting and he's an interesting potential contender despite obvious stamina concerns on his first go at three miles-plus. Mark of 160 clearly stiff but he was second in an Ascot handicap in January off 159 and was only beaten three and a half lengths by Fakir D'oudairies in Grade One at the same venue the following month. Can excuse subsequent Ryanair defeat and he was a ready winner here (2m4f) 12 months ago, albeit on the back of an outing at Aintree. Likely to appreciate the forecast rain, but still not sure it'll be soft enough.
Beaten just half a length by Cloudy Glen in this race last year and returns having to defy a 5lb higher mark which looks the most obvious stumbling block to success as he clearly stays the trip well and he arrives race-fit on the back of a fair effort in a handicap hurdle over an inadequate distance at Kempton. He's another for whom the forecast rain is beneficial/essential.
Never run in a handicap before and clearly not entering this sphere under the radar as far as the official assessor is concerned given his BHA mark of 151. But obviously still open to improve after just six chase runs (14 lifetime starts) and his comeback run over hurdles at Wetherby was encouraging enough. He generally races handily and goes in all types of ground too so not hard to see a very bold bid.
Seems to lose his form as quickly as he rediscovers it which is a concern, but the talent is clearly there if able to bring something approaching his best. Won a Grade Two at Ascot first time out last November, which is obviously encouraging and makes him attractively handicapped now with a mark of 150. Probably a bit too much of a risk, balance, though, with yard just scratching around for winners at the moment.
The only remaining Irish entry and he comes from a red-hot yard to boot. A shade flattered by Kerry National success at Listowel when last seen (Hewick a faller at the last when looking the likely winner) but he's evidently as tough as teak and he remains open to further improvement over this sort of trip. Also seems to appreciate a sound surface so while the rain is expected to hit through the week, the ground surely won't be too testing.
A real regular in this sort of race in recent years and he's run in this the past couple of season, unseating rider in 2020 and pulling-up with three to jump 12 months ago. That's not a fair reflection of his overall ability, though, and his last two chase wins have come in handicaps off this mark (147), though he is 2lb 'wrong' on these terms at the moment as he's due to be dropped in future.
Comeback run at Carlisle could have gone a whole lot better but he wasn't alone in needing an autumn outing when it comes to this yard and recent form indicates the stable is really beginning to spark again. Finished really strongly to win the Ultima at Cheltenham in March, form that looks likely to keep working out well, and as an eight-year-old with just seven chase starts under his belt, he could definitely be up to defying the 7lb higher mark at some stage this season. Has won on good ground and heavy so few issues there either.
New recruit to the Dan Skelton yard and wasted no time in getting off the mark this season, stylishly justifying favouritism on his Bangor comeback earlier this month. That was a clear career-best effort and although saddled with a 4lb penalty as a result, he's due to go up 8lb so comes here officially 4lb well-in and a massive danger to all. The more rain the better as far as he's concerned.
Was in with every chance of success before coming to grief four-out in this race last year but couldn't quite convert in three subsequent chase starts last season. Back in the groove when taking advantage of reduced hurdles mark on his seasonal return at Aintree last month and holds leading claims back over fences under 4lb penalty which means he effectively races off the same mark as last year.
Progressive novice last year, gaining plenty of big-race handicap experience along the way and ran with credit when fifth to Corach Rambler and a couple more of these in the Ultima at Cheltenham. Defied 228-day layoff to post a career-best Ascot win late last month and subsequent 5lb looks perfectly fair, though the form could have worked out better. Handles good and soft ground, while he's far from exposed as a staying chaser so appeals as the type to step up again.
Hasn't found winning over fences easy but filled the runner-up spot four times in succession last season, culminating in fine second to Corach Rambler in the Ultima at Cheltenham in March (when 5lb out of the weights). Quiet enough prep run over hurdles at Aintree earlier in the month but that's entitled to have put him right for this and he's still just a six-year-old, effectively only 1lb higher than at the Festival, and entitled to maximum respect on second start after a summer breathing operation. Having said that, soft ground seems to suit best.
Like Gericault Roque, he's another second-season novice chaser lining up on the back of a prep run over hurdles after undergoing wind surgery in the summer. Finished right on the heels of Corach Rambler and the Pipe horse in the Ultima too, despite bursting a blood vessel, and he still looks to be on the right side of the assessor. Underfoot conditions of no real concern (handles anything) and solid each-way claims on a good day.
Still only seven and he really announced himself with wins at Ascot (chase) and this course (hurdles) - both over 3m - last season. He's not excessively higher in the weights now either and although ending up down the field behind Our Power on his comeback run at Ascot, it's not hard to see him leaving that well behind. Should give it a good shot from a prominent early pitch.
Along with Le Milos, he's the other horse coming into this officially ahead of the handicapper, having been put up 3lb for an excellent Badger Beer second to Frodon since the Newbury weights were initially published. Doesn't really cope with deep winter ground so may get his ground if it stays dry later in the week and he's a progressive, in-form stayer from a yard that has gone close in this race a couple of times in the past. Lots to like, in short.
Will be 1lb out of the handicap if top weight Fanion D'Estruval takes his chance, which isn't a great start, and he also comes here having refused two-out in the Southern National at Fontwell earlier in the month. Looks likely to get his preferred ground if reports from the track are correct but doesn't seem to have the requisite class and his jumping can be dicey at times too.
Was a promising novice over fences for this yard a couple of seasons ago before spending 880 days on the sidelines and he didn't really look the same force when resuming earlier this year, being unplaced in a couple of handicap hurdles and a well-beaten third over fences at Bangor in the summer. Dropped in the weights to a mark he can surely exploit at some stage but doesn't look likely this weekend.
LORD ACCORD has been high on the shortlist for this ever since he confirmed his Cheltenham win was no flash in the pan with a fine subsequent second to Grade One horse Frodon in the Badger Beer at Wincanton.
He's still being overlooked in the market around 16/1 considering they're expected to be watering to maintain decent ground come the weekend (depending on the extent of forecast midweek rain), and the fact he's now clearly going to sneak in here under a low weight.
Gericault Roque and Oscar Elite are preferred to Ultima winner Corach Rambler a bit closer to the head of the betting, while at bigger odds Annsam is also on the radar given he's got winning form at the track and remains a seven-year-old with plenty more to offer following his comeback spin at Ascot.
We are committed in our support of safer gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.
If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.