The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup on Saturday brings back many memories in its multiple guises for me with my favourite winners (speaking entirely from my pocket of course) being Fifty Dollars More (‘83), Addington Boy (‘96) and more recently the four-year-old Unioniste in stamina-sapping conditions in 2012.
In the last 12 years, 10 seven-year-olds or younger have won with a pair of eight-year-olds grabbing the gold medal on the other two occasions. With only five of the 17 runner field set to run as ‘elder statesmen’ on Saturday, that pattern is set to continue.
Riders OnThe Storm has been the gamble through the second half of the week and has quite obviously been laid out for this, but will need a career best by some way to land this valuable prize off a mark of 153. (He was subsequently declared a non-runner on Friday morning). This looks an ultra-competitive renewal on Saturday at 13.55 where Paddy is paying the first 5 home if more than 14 runners go to post.
The Skelton’s Not That Fuisse has been the other mover and in contrast to the Nigel Twiston-Davies runner, he does look fairly treated. This will be his first run over fences in the hurly burly of a big field that is very physically-demanding. If he takes to it, the six-year-old is a big player along with Brelan D’As and Irish raider Robin Des Foret from the Willie Mullins’ yard.
However, I think CLONDAW CASTLE could be the one semblance of value left following an eye-catching run on his seasonal return at Ascot.
What struck me was how fluently he both jumped and travelled and despite needing the run, the Tom George rep ran his heart out all the way to the line eventually beaten half a length by Diego Du Charmil.
The fact that he has been left on the same mark by the handicapper and is finally stepping up in trip (bred to get three miles) suggests he has everything going for him.
He gets the vote over the progressive Good Man Pat.
I shall return to Saturday shortly, but Friday’s card looks a corker as well. Pym has always struck me as a likely dour stayer over fences and he proved the point when he successfully stepped up to three miles for the first time when seeing off the useful Highest Sun by three lengths. He has to be a big player in the big novice chase at 12.45, but giving 5lbs to chasing debutant STONEY MOUNTAIN could prove beyond him.
The last named came from the clouds to land the Grade Three staying handicap hurdle at Haydock three weeks ago and has always had the make and shape to be a better chaser. Word is he has schooled really well at home for Henry Daly and in anticipation of a big run I have backed him for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
The 3m 2f handicap chase at 14.30 features mainly exposed performers in the 12-runner field. Dandy Dan is one exception to that rule and he remains very much on an upward curve following his seasonal debut second to Mysteree at Kelso. However, I am not so sure he would have wanted the heavy rain on Thursday and bottom weight ONEFORTHEROADTOM is my idea of the winner.
His run behind here behind The Conditional was a cracking effort and if this turns into a real slog, he looks hard to keep out of the three at the very least.
It will be interesting to see how Kilbricken Storm fares on his comeback run following a wind operation in the staying hurdle at 15.40. A mark of 145 would give him a massive chance here if he retains all of his considerable old ability.
However, this looks earmarked for DEBESTYMAN trained by Suzy Smith. I thought that he was a huge eye-catcher when finishing six and three quarter lengths behind Champers On Ice at Newbury and should go very close to reversing that form here.
So back to Saturday, and BALLYANDY is my idea of the each-way value in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham (15.05), while KILTEALLY BRIGGS may lower the colours of The Mulcair in the Albert Bartlett at 14.30.
But my best bet of the day on Saturday comes at Doncaster in the form of LORD LAMMINGTON in the Grade Two Summit Juvenile Hurdle at 14.45. He was seriously impressive at Market Rasen on his debut and Alan King thinks an awful lot of this son of Australia.
*Prices and runners correct at time of posting
- Stoney Mountain, Cheltenham, Friday 12.45
- Onefortheroadtom, Cheltenham, Friday 14.30
- Debestyman, Cheltenham, Friday 15.40
- Clondaw Castle, Cheltenham, Saturday 13.55
- Lord Lammington, Doncaster, Saturday, 14.45
- Ballyandy, Cheltenham, Saturday 15.05
- Kilteally Briggs, Cheltenham, Saturday 14.30