Cheltenham specialist Foxtail Hill can provide local handler Nigel Twiston-Davies with another big Saturday success, according to Value Bet expert Ben Linfoot.
Value Bet: December 16
Nigel Twiston-Davies has been the king of Saturday afternoons all season and he added to his big-race haul last weekend when Blaklion landed a ridiculous Becher Chase gamble with ease.
That came on the back of Bristol De Mai’s Betfair Chase demolition, while before that he won the BetVictor Gold Cup with Splash Of Ginge who was ensuring a fourth win in the race for the Naunton handler.
In contrast, Twiston-Davies has won the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup only once, with Double Ross in 2013, but, for the same owners, the Options O Syndicate, he could well double his tally in the race on Saturday with FOXTAIL HILL at 14/1 (General 1,2,3 1/5 odds – check your each-way terms you might get ¼ and/or extra places).
While Splash Of Ginge was sent off 25/1 before landing the BetVictor, stablemate Foxtail Hill was by far the better-fancied of the pair as his starting price of 9/1 suggests.
That came on the back of a terrific win over two miles at the October meeting at the track, where he jumped like a buck and showed real guts to hold on from Le Prezien in a thrilling finish.
Up 7lb for that, he couldn’t follow up in the BetVictor, but it would be dangerous to dismiss his chance on Saturday on the grounds that the handicapper might’ve caught up with him.
This is where I better insert a disclaimer – he may well have done. But I’m not happy with coming to that conclusion purely on the evidence of the BetVictor and circumstances could well see Foxtail Hill regain his Cheltenham groove in the Caspian Caviar.
Last time, in the BetVictor, Foxtail Hill adopted his usual front-running position, but was taken out of his comfort zone when Kylemore Lough took him on for the lead down the back straight.
A mistake at the water jump saw Kylemore Lough lose some ground but Foxtail Hill had already been ruffled and the writing was on the wall three out when Splash Of Ginge, Starchitect and Le Prezien took over to do battle up the hill.
Fully aware his chance had gone, Jamie Bargary looked after him in the closing stages and I wouldn’t take his 25-length defeat literally at all. The hope is that manoeuvre will have helped him recover sufficiently to have a real go at claiming Saturday’s prize.
With no Kylemore Lough in the field this time, there looks to be a distinct lack of pace pressure in opposition and an easy lead, with Bargary able to get the breathers into him that he couldn’t last time, looks a distinct possibility.
Starchitect and Splash Of Ginge might not be far away again, but they’re likely to be prominent just off the pace and only loomed up alongside Foxtail Hill last time after he’d already been roughed up by Harry Fry’s horse.
We know horses can be hard to peg back at Cheltenham if they get loose on the lead and his record around Prestbury Park is excellent, with two wins and a second to his name from five starts over fences.
On the New Course his record is a first and a second from two starts, his victory coming in the open handicap on trials day when he belied his novice status with an exhibition round of jumping and galloping in soft ground.
That was off a stone lower mark, admittedly, and we come around to the issue of handicapping once again. But, at 14/1, we have a horse that loves the track, has plenty of guts and a will to win and may well be suited by the way it all pans out.
It counts for plenty and at the prices he’s the one I want on side.
Dangers are everywhere, despite this being the smallest field for the race since Fondmort led home eight rivals back in 2002.
The class horse in the race is Clan Des Obeaux, who looked in great nick at Haydock last time. A 7lb rise might not be enough to stop him following up, as he looks a Grade One runner in the making, but it does ensure he has to carry top weight against some capable horses here.
It's just enough to put me off as he’s been well backed already, as has King’s Odyssey who was going well enough in this race last year when falling at the 12th fence.
He was 7lb higher that day and is back down to a mark just 1lb higher than when he won the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase on trials day back in 2016. He’s only had five starts since then and caught the eye over an inadequate two miles on his reappearance at Carlisle.
That looks a canny bit of training from Evan Williams as it should've put him spot on for this while the handicapper dropped him 2lb as well. If I was going to have a saver it would be on him, but I just felt his price had contracted enough already and, in an ideal world, he'd probably want it even softer.
Later on the Cheltenham card I think it could be worth taking a chance on CH’TIBELLO in the Unibet International Hurdle (3.05) at 8/1 (general).
The New One is going for his fourth win in this and there’s another previous winner in Old Guard too, but Ch’Tibello gets weight from that pair and Willie Mullins’ Melon, who carries a 6lb penalty following his reappearance win at Down Royal.
Favoured by the weights, conditions are very much up Ch’Tibello’s street as he goes well in testing ground, as best advertised by his win in the Betfair Price Rush Hurdle at Haydock in the November of 2016, when he beat Saturday rivals My Tent Or Yours and Old Guard.
Beaten by Yanworth in the Christmas Hurdle and Kingwell Hurdle after that, he hasn’t been seen since Wincanton but he did have Sceau Royal in behind at that track, a horse that is currently blooming over fences.
Ruled out of the Champion Hurdle due to small problem with a foot, Ch’Tibello has been given time to recover but the good thing is he is a horse that has gone well fresh, as he won the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr in the April of 2016 after five months off the track, beating Cloudy Dream fairly comfortably giving him a couple of pounds.
His best form was on his last two runs, though, performances that have helped him climb to a rating of 157. If he runs to that sort of mark on these terms he’ll have a big chance and confidence in the bet is enhanced considering Dan Skelton’s good recent form.
Posted at 1700 GMT on 15/12/17.
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: +387.89pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
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