Haldon Gold Cup Tips: Glen to Forsa his way to Exeter win

Haldon Gold Cup Tips: We pick out our best bet for the Grade 2 handicap chase at Exeter
Haldon Gold Cup Tips: We pick out our best bet for the Grade 2 handicap chase at Exeter

Steve Chambers previews Tuesday's Haldon Gold Cup, which will provide some midweek Cheltenham Festival clues from Exeter racecourse...

A field of ten have been declared for the hotly-anticipated renewal of the Haldon Gold Cup, which will light up Tuesday's National Hunt card at Exeter, and there's some exciting chasers taking their chance in a race that has been won by such stars as Best Mate, Edredon Bleu, Azertyuiop and Cue Card in recent times.

While it's rather unlikely that we see a winner reach the same heights of that aforementioned quartet, some contenders will certainly line up with potential Cheltenham Festival aspirations come March, with potential Queen Mother Champion Chase and Ryanair Chase clues emerging from Tuesday's Grade 2 limited handicap.

Paul Nicholls has won two of the last five renewals (Vibrato Valtat - 2015, Politologue - 2017) and the Ditcheat handler will saddle the hot favourite Greaneteen, who was a really progressive novice chaser last season, but failed to end his season on a high when finishing fourth in the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival.

Wins at Ascot, Musselburgh and Fakenham sent the six-year-old to Prestbury Park in March as one of the leading players in the Grand Annual, but he was only able to finish fourth at odds of 5/1, as he suffered his first defeat over the larger obstacles. The expensive French recruit is currently a 50/1 chance for the Champion Chase and for that price to shorten considerably he must win this contest with aplomb. The betting suggests that the Ditcheat raider will be tough to beat, as he is clear favourite for this contest, but this will be his toughest test to date over fences to date, as he takes on some proven top notch chasers in the 2m 1f 109y event. 

A winner of a maiden hurdle at Exeter earlier in his career, Greaneteen will receive weight from some of his rivals in this event, and the Nicholls team have always held him in high regards, but around the 2/1 mark at the time of writing he could prove to be a little skinny, and there could be better value elsewhere, so he is worth taking on.

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Mick Channon saddled Somersby to victory in the 2013 Haldon Gold Cup, and the same colours of Tim Radford will be worn by Glen Forsa in the 2020 renewal, who could be a real thorn in the side of Greaneteen. A winner of a novice event at Kempton on 2018 King George VI Chase day, Glen Forsa then went on to win the rearranged 2019 Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Sandown. Well fancied in the 2019 Arkle, Channon's charge unseated his rider, and since then he's struggled to recapture his best form over the larger obstacles.

Pulled up in the Manifesto Novices' Chase that same season, Glen Forsa has only been seen once on the track since that Aintree event in 2019, and that was in a competitive handicap at Newbury last November. With nearly a year off the track, the eight-year-old has obviously had his problems, but he shaped well when third behind Oldgrangewood and Kalashnikov at Newbury, and showed that he still possesses a lot of ability. If Channon can get him firing on all cylinders for his trip to the West Country, then Glen Forsa could prove to be the class act in this race, and he is the one to beat.

Esprit Du Large stormed into the limelight last season when grabbing a shock win in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown Park, but he fluffed his lines when falling in the Arkle at last season's Cheltenham Festival. Still lightly-raced over fences with only four chase runs on his CV, the Evan Williams-trained six-year-old is entitled to improve this season, and he has winning form at Exeter. However, that came over 2m 3f, and it could be that he just lacks that bit of speed some of his rivals possess, and he could prove vulnerable to speedier rivals.

Global Citizen is another contender at single-figure odds, and having had a successful career over hurdles (won Grade 2 Champion Hurdle trial at Haydock in 2019), Ben Pauling's charge made a real impression when sent over fences. An impressive winner over Rouge Vif in the Grade 2 Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton Park, Global Citizen then went on to finish fourth in the Arkle in March. With Rouge Vif giving that Kempton Park form a huge boost when he was a mightily-impressive winner at Cheltenham last month, then Global Citizen has to be given the utmost respect, and he could be a major player if producing his best.

Tom George has the best recent record in this race, with three wins in the last six years, and while he will not have dual winner and Haldon Gold Cup regular God's Own in this year's renewal, he will have a smart chaser in the shape of Bun Doran, who will have the burden of top weight in a fascinating renewal. Last season's Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase winner was sent in at the deep end at the Cheltenham Festival, as he lined up in the Champion Chase. However, he outran his lofty odds and finished third behind Politologue, and a repeat of that would see him figure. But, with weight to give away it's hard to see him playing a notable role here.

Of the others, Not That Fuisse will have race fitness on his side having won at Perth in September and finished third at Cheltenham last month, However, that recent outing at Cheltenham was a bit disappointing, so he can be ignored here, while Vision Des Flos was last seen unseating his rider in the Old Roan Chase, and this could come a bit quick following his Aintree tumble, so you can have no confidence with him bouncing back here.

Pink Eyed Pedro produced a career best when winning at Chepstow last time out, but this is a lot tougher and being 1 lb out of the handicap he will find it tough in a field awash with exciting chasers, and it's Glen Forsa that can prove to be the class act on the day at the Devon track and claim a big-race success on Tuesday afternoon.

Selection:

Haldon Gold Cup, Exeter, Tuesday 3rd November - back Glen Forsa at 6/1

Haldon Gold Cup
Glen Forsa silk

Glen Forsa

Fell
2021 Cheltenham Festival
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