Simon Holt best bets and tips for BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham

Don't miss the Saturday thoughts of Simon Holt
Don't miss the Saturday thoughts of Simon Holt

Simon Holt makes the case for Bryony Frost taking the limelight on another massive Saturday with victory in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

Recommended bets: Saturday November 17

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Despite putting in a terrific round of jumping to win the Old Roan Chase at Aintree nearly three weeks ago, FRODON has been largely ignored in the betting for Saturday's BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

Up 3lb for that success and 2lb worse off with runner-up Javert, Bryony Frost's mount also has a bit more to do in that his excellent rider has since lost her 3lb riding allowance.

So perhaps it is a stiff task, but a repeat of Frodon's annihilation of his rivals in a valuable handicap chase under 11st7lb on the New Course here last January suggests he may be up to it.

In that race, the six-year-old stormed clear of Shantou Flyer up the hill and the form was well boosted when the latter and fourth-placed Coo Star Sivola fought out a stirring finish at the Festival in March.

Frodon's subsequent efforts were not so good but a wind operation appeared to have made a big difference at Aintree and, in a race which has been won by heavily weighted runners such as Half Free, Very Promising, Bradbury Star, Cyfor Malta and Taquin Du Seuil in the past, he looks over-priced in the hands of a rider who, successful aboard Present Man in last week's big chase at Wincanton, appears to have a magical touch.

Of course, it won't be easy in what looks a typically competitive renewal in which both Kalondra and Baron Alco could be well handicapped.

Kalondra, third to recent Ascot winner Traffic Fluide here in April, looked set to show improved form at Galway in August against two highly-rated (both 150+) rivals in Sub Lieutenant and Sandymount Duke until falling at the second last.

Considering he was conceding 7lb that day and, would have probably finished second at worst, this smooth traveller who doesn't want to hit the front too soon could have plenty in hand here off a mark of 148. The only negative is that he does come here after that fall.

Baron Alco, overlooked by usual rider Jamie Moore who favours stable-mate Benatar, is an easy horse to like and returned from a lay-off with a typically gutsy second to the talented Charbel at Chepstow last month.

If that race was slightly needed, Josh Moore's mount must have every chance here off a rating which may under-estimate efforts behind the likes of Whisper, Top Notch and Road To Respect in 2016/17.

Benatar is rated 3lb higher and his defeat of Finians Oscar at Ascot last season and subsequent third to Shattered Love at the Festival make for sweet reading.

However, he comes here after a somewhat disappointing effort at Newton Abbot in October when, not for the first time, pulling too hard.

The market has tended to concentrate on Mister Whitaker and Rather Be, who finished first and second in the novice handicap chase at the Festival.

The former made a solid winning reappearance at Carlisle just under a fortnight ago for which he has gone up 7lb and could struggle to confirm the form with the game runner-up Happy Diva whose rider Richard Patrick can claim his 5lb allowance this time.

Mick Channon's progressive young chaser also has more to do with Rather Be (now 9lb better off for a head), though the latter does not have the benefit of a previous run this season.

Some of the horses behind them in March haven't really advertised the form since.

Paul Nicholls, trainer of Frodon, could also strike in the BetVictor.com Handicap Chase in which his dual Scottish Grand National winner VICENTE bids to take revenge on Perfect Candidate who beat him a neck in this race last year.

The pair are closely weighted again but, whereas his conqueror has run moderately since, the selection made another bold bid at Ayr in April finishing fifth behind Joe Farrell.

Moreover, it was a good effort 12 months ago by Harry Cobden's mount considering the ground was softer than he probably likes whereas his record round Cheltenham on a quicker surface is very consistent.

Vicente also tends to run well when fresh, and doubtless will be lightly raced in the build up to another crack at the Scottish Grand National this season, but he is fully capable of being really competitive here.

The race is made all the more interesting by the reappearance of 2015 Gold Cup winner Coneygree, who makes yet another comeback having raced just five times since his big win and could find conditions lively enough, while Cheltenham regulars Cogry and Singlefarmpayment will probably run well again though neither has a particularly good strike rate.


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