Ben Linfoot seeks out the value in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup and he's taking two against the field in the big Cheltenham handicap including one for Nicky Henderson.
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It looks a good renewal of the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday with a host of fascinating contenders coming together.
We’ve got a horse in Frodon topping the weights off a mark of 164 bidding for his third course and distance success. We’ve got the BetVictor Gold Cup winner, Baron Alco, aiming to do the Exotic Dancer double off a 6lb higher mark.
We’ve got Rather Be, unluckily brought down four out in Baron Alco’s BetVictor. We’ve got Philip Hobbs’ easy Aintree winner War Sound. We’ve got a talented Venetia Williams seasonal debutant in Cepage.
We’ve got lurkers at the bottom of the weights. We’ve got veterans like Splash Of Ginge aiming to roll back the years. We’ve got Robert Walford aiming for back-to-back big Saturday handicaps thanks to the presence of Mr Medic.
We’ve got the potential for a pace burn-up at the head of affairs. We’ve got the prospect of heavy rain in the build-up and possibly during the contest.
We’ve got a lot to consider, but when all is factored in the one horse that sticks out to me at the prices is Nicky Henderson’s supposed second string CASABLANCA MIX at 14/1 (General).
I like the pick of this Shirocco mare’s form.
Second to Willoughby Court on just her second chase start as a novice, she followed that up by thrashing Theatre Territory and Miss Crick at Huntingdon on her next start.
A last fence faller at Exeter when in command after that, she reappeared this season at Kempton and shaped like she was really well-handicapped, pulling clear with the winner Copain De Claisse until her challenge ended with another mistake at the final obstacle.
The irony is she’s a really fluent jumper. Those last-fence mistakes don’t look anything to be too concerned about and she certainly jumped the final fence well last time when just reeled in by Ron’s Dream over three miles at Market Rasen.
The drop back in trip looks ideal and that last piece of form was franked on Thursday when the third home, Atlanta Ablaze, bolted up by 19 lengths at Warwick.
Nico de Boinville rides, another positive, and he’s likely to sit just off what could be a red-hot gallop set by Baron Alco, Foxtail Hill and perhaps Splash Of Ginge.
That scenario would suit this mare and at 14/1 she’s worth backing to thrive in what his her first go in a big-field handicap of this nature.
It wasn’t easy to whittle the shortlist down to two.
If Foxtail Hill doesn’t get involved in a pace burn-up with Baron Alco he looks handicapped to have a say, while if the rain doesn’t arrive in significant quantity in time then Romain De Senam might be worth forgiving his first-fence unseat last time.
If the ground does ease then Cepage and Full Glass come into things, but the one I have to have a saver on is last year’s winner GUITAR PETE at 10/1 (General).
He’s only 4lb higher than when winning this race last year, he ran a sound race off a higher mark at the Festival when sixth in the Brown Advisory and he shaped like he was coming back to his peak form when third in the BetVictor last time.
The New Course seems to suit him better and he’ll be happy whatever the ground does, as well.
On top of this Nicky Richards is in tremendous form, his last seven runners finishing 1-1-2-1-1-1-1, and if they do go hard up front, as looks likely, that will play into the hands of his eight-year-old.
Ben Linfoot's Value Bet aim: The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK. Running total: +331.49pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 GMT on 14/12/18.