Longshot Ted: Shadow can strike at Cheltenham

Midnight Shadow (orange cap) looks to have a good chance in Saturday's feature at Cheltenham.
Midnight Shadow (orange cap) looks to have a good chance in Saturday's feature at Cheltenham.

In this week's column, Ed Quigley gives his views on Saturday's December Gold Cup at Cheltenham, before turning his attentions to the biggest race of the season...

It's just over 3 months to go until the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and one horse that makes plenty of appeal at the prices is the Gordon Elliot trained DELTA WORK. I think predominantly the market has it just about right at the moment, with Al Boum Photo and Minella Indo at the top of the antepost lists, with my preference for the Henry De Bromhead trained Minella Indo, who has looked in rude health so far this season, admittedly in contests he has been expected to win with ease. Santini was beaten by Lake View Lad at the weekend, but will clearly peak for the Festival, whilst Champ, Lostintranslation and Cyrname are all class acts on their day, but all have varying questions to answer in regards to the demands of a Gold Cup test.

Based purely on prices, Delta Work has to come into the equation, given that his best form sees him firmly in the mix. The seven-year-old was sent off 5/1 to win last year's renewal at Prestbury Park, but didn't jump with his usual alacrity in what was a slowly run race that turned into a bit of a dash in the home straight. A more end-to-end gallop will suit him, and if he can retain his crown in the Savills Chase or even go close, expect his odds to tumble. He often needs his seasonal reappearance, and he ran much better in this year's Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal than he did the previous year, so that bodes well moving forward. He's 33/1 now, and I wouldn't be shocked if he turned up to the Festival with major claims once again at a single-figure price.

Cheltenham Gold Cup
Delta Work silk

Delta Work

Cheltenham Festival Races

Back to more immediate affairs, and the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup takes place at Cheltenham on Saturday, and at an each-way price, MIDNIGHT SHADOW makes appeal. The Sue Smith-trained gelding was a winner over course and distance when landing the Dipper Chase in January. He has performed well in Grade 1 company subsequently, finishing second in the Scilly Isles and then was far from disgraced when sixth behind Samcro in the Marsh Chase at this year's Festival. Smith warned he would need the run in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October and shaped accordingly finishing down the field.

He should be a lot straighter for this, has eased to a mark of 148, and should benefit from a return to this venue. It is the seven-year-old's only entry this weekend, and considering that the race has the propensity to cut up, he would be a lively player if taking his chance. Master Tommytucker appears to be getting his act together over fences and I can see why he is favourite, however, he is arguably short enough in the betting considering his relative lack of form in big fields, and defying top weight and a mark of 157.

December Gold Cup
Midnight Shadow silk

Midnight Shadow (EW)

placed

Selections

December Gold Cup, Cheltenham, Saturday 12th December - Midnight Shadow, 0.5pt each-way at 16/1 (generally)

Cheltenham Gold Cup, Cheltenham Festival, Friday 19th March 2021 - Delta Work, 1pt win at 33/1 (Bet365)

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