Cotswold Chase Tips: Protektorat to enhance Gold Cup claims
Despite no winner of the Cotswold Chase taking the Cheltenham Gold Cup out later that season since the turn of the millennium, it is still considered a key trial for racing's biggest prize. On Saturday the 2023 renewal will see some big contenders stake their claim to be a market leader and Billy Grimshaw is on hand to preview the Grade 2 staying contest...
Just six runners are set to contest this year's Cotswold Chase but it would be a brave punter to with certainty rule any of the sextet out of the reckoning. Protektorat heads the market just about from Grand National winner Noble Yeats and both are ranking highly in Gold Cup considerations. Dan Skelton's star staying chaser finished a respectable but distant third in the Gold Cup won so impressively by A Plus Tard last time he was at Prestbury Park. and the race seemed to have taken its toll after a disappointment in the Bowl at Aintree.
However he was seriously back in the groove when on seasonal reappearance routing the Betfair Chase at Haydock, with his Gold Cup conqueror A Plus Tard disappointing in behind. As much as the form can be picked at from that race, the performance from Protektorat cannot and with his decent run last time here under his belt and being another year older and stronger he should take all the beating. His main market rival Noble Yeats was a massive price at the start of the season for Gold Cup glory but is into single figures now after showing an electric turn of pace for one with such undoubted stamina in the Many Clouds Chase.
That performance means he warrants his place as second favourite here and high in the Gold Cup betting, but there is a nagging suspicion he is better on flatter tracks like Aintree after disappointing at the Festival in a handicap last time. With less than a point between the two in the market it is Protektorat who brings stronger claims to the table and will get the nod from us.
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Outside of the front two in the betting the next horse to assess was actually seen finishing way behind Noble Yeats last time out at Aintree, Ahoy Senor. Even the most forgiving racing fan will be getting sick of this runner's erratic jumping and the fact he threw in such a stinker at a course he has a brilliant record at like Aintree will have raised concerns for connections. Plenty of judges have implored the team to revert to hurdles and have a go at the Stayers', but the Lucinda Russell team are steadfast that the Gold Cup is and always will be the holy grail. He is undoubtedly supremely talented on his day but there is just no way anyone could confidently back him for this on the back of such horrific jumping performances.
What may be a better betting proposition is a small wager on him to win the Gold Cup at enormous odds, because if he wins this and is back on song the 66/1 quotes will be a thing of the past. Another horse that ran in the Many Clouds and disappointed reopposes here in Sounds Russian. HIs performance that day was nothing special but he is a smart performer on his day and ran a mighty race in the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby last time out under top weight, eventually losing out by half a length to a rival carrying a stone less than him.
The racing romantics among us will surely be cheering on Frodon and Bryony Frost to win this race again like in 2019. Paul Nicholls' wonderful front running warrior is no spring chicken anymore but absolutely loves it around here. In fifteen starts at Prestbury Park he's registered six wins and has gone down by short margins in some of his defeats. He and Ahoy Senor look the likely pace angles and with the jumping fragilities of Ahoy Senor, Frodon could see him off fairly early and have the run of the race as we know he loves to do. It would probably take the front two in the market disappointing for Frodon to still be involved come the shake-up at the final obstacles but the roof would come off were he to win.
Dusart completes the line up and has a piece of form that should see him ahead of Sounds Russian in the odds lists if taken literally. Back in April of 2022 Nicky Henderson's charge beat his rival by half a length at Ayr when carrying 2 pounds more in a handicap chase. He was nowhere near that good on seasonal reappearance and was nowhere near good enough in last season's Brown Advisory alongside Ahoy Senor, but could potentially cause an upset if putting in a career best.
While all the runners are to be respected, it is the favourite PROTEKTORAT who in my view holds the key to this race. He was very good last year but judging by his Betfair romp and the bulletins from connections, he has gone up another level this campaign. This could be another big step towards going two places better in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and at 13/8 he is worth backing to scoop this prize.