Saturday's Caspian Caviar Gold Cup is one of the most competitive handicaps of the season.
In the latest edition of his weekly column, Ed Quigley picks out his best bet in Saturday's big race at Cheltenham, the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, before taking a long-range look at the Grand National...
The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup is the big betting heat at Prestbury Park on Saturday and it looks a very tricky one for punters to solve. With that in mind I am firing a couple of win bets at the antepost market. There are two horses that make my shortlist from a betting perspective, with the first being the Dan Skelton-trained NOT THAT FUISSE, who is a horse who has shaped as though he has the credentials to land a prize like this, and off a mark of 131, the bottom weight commands plenty of respect. I have thought for some time that a strongly run race over this extended 2m 4f trip should bring out the best in him. His four-length second to Al Dancer over an inadequate trip at the October meeting makes him look very well-treated from his current rating, and I fully expect him to be in the mix here.
One horse that is at a crossroads in his career is the Kayley Woollacott-trained LALOR, but at 20/1, he looks worth one more roll of the dice. Generally his form has gone south since producing a phenomenal display on his chase debut at Cheltenham just over a year ago in the Grade 2 Arkle trial. He made the likes of Defi Du Seuil and Dynamite Dollars look like also-rans on that occasion but hasn't been able to replicate it since. He was last seen finishing fourth in the Haldon Gold Cup behind Janika, in which he looked like being tailed off at one point, but to his credit, did make some late headway up the home straight, and looked more than ever like a horse who now wants to move up in distance. So with that in mind, stepping up in trip here, combined with, on paper at least anyway, the easiest race he has tackled since his last victory means he is worth chancing in a handicap off 149. He returns to the scene of his finest performance to date, and with plenty of stamina in his pedigree, there are grounds for optimism.
Looking back on the weekend's action, the Becher Chase was exciting as always, and the horse that came seventh, LE BREUIL shaped beautifully on his first start over the National Fences, only to tire late on. This year's National Hunt Chase winner ran with plenty of zest for a long way, and crucially, looked to relish the obstacles. I thought there was lots to like about this performance, especially as Ben Pauling's yard was more or less shut down for the month of November with a suspected dodgy batch of hay. Le Breuil was entitled to improve for that outing. Pauling's pre-race comments of, 'It is all about Aintree in April for this horse' bodes well that he will be handled with bubble-wrap this campaign, and even at this early stage, looks terrific value at 40/1 to win the big one in my view.
Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, Cheltenham, Saturday 14th December 2019 - Not That Fuisse, 1pt win at 12/1 (generally)
Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, Cheltenham, Saturday 14th December 2019 - Lalor, 1pt win at 20/1 (Unibet)
Grand National, Aintree, Saturday 4th April 2020 - Le Breuil, 1pt win at 40/1 (generally)
Caught the eye when seventh in the Becher Chase at Aintree in December, shaping well on his first try over the Grand National fences. His campaign is built around a tilt at the big race in April, and considering his win in the four-miler at Cheltenham last season shows he has stamina in abundance, it would be no surprise to see him go close.