The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase at 1.55 is the feature race of the second day of Cheltenham’s International Meeting today, with a field of 11 competing for a tasty first prize of £68,340.
Favourite at 7-2 is the Paul Nicholls’ trained Clan Des Obeaux ,a 5-y-o saddled with top weight of 11st 12lbs. Full of unfulfilled potential last season, this gelding has benefited from the famous Ditcheat wind-op, finishing a close second to the mighty Whisper and then winning a novice event at Haydock in the mud. Raised 7lbs for that victory, CDO makes its handicap debut off 155, and, frankly, that may be too much.
Our main selection for this race is a horse that has been laid out for it for a long time and that beast is King’s Odyssey, trained by Evan Williams.
Travelling wonderfully well on the heels of the leaders when coming down in this very race last year, this 8-y-o can run off a 7lb lower mark this afternoon and ran a warm-up race full of promise when a close 3rd at Carlisle last month. At 15-2, this represents the value each way bet and should be snapped up.
We suggested an each way bet on Guitar Pete for the BetVictor Gold Cup last month only for the horse to be effectively put out of the race by a first fence faller, so we also suggest an each way bet on Nicky Richards’ charge at 11-1 to fare better today.
The eponymous Unibet International Hurdle at 3.05 is the other feature race, with the Willie Mullins’ trained Melon installed as favourite at 15-8. This price seems to owe more to the trainer’s name rather than the horse’s ability, as it’s a good part of a stone ‘wrong’ at the weights and, on paper, has no chance. Could be wrong, of course, but we suggest a win bet on the oldest horse in the race at a more palatable 9-2 – step forward My Tent Or Yours, hoping at long last to get the better of The New One and very pleased not to be looking at the backside of Buveur D’Air disappearing into the distance.
Elsewhere on the card, the Ryman Novices Chase at 12.45 has only four runners, with the favourite being another Nicholls’ inmate Movewiththetimes, available at 10-11.
On all known form, this 6-y-o should be 2-5 at least, with its second to Finian’s Oscar the stand-out run, so we must recommend a win bet and hope the fences don’t get in the way. For safety’s sake, however, we also suggest a reverse forecast involving Coo Star Sivola, which was 4 lengths adrift of our selection last time out but will strip fitter today.
The Junior Jumpers Handicap Chase at 1.20 will be won by Bun Doran, if ready to go after a break and this Tom George runner should be backed at a generally available 5-2.
The OLBG Mares’ Handicap Hurdle closes the card at 3.40 and our selection for this, each way at 5-1, is the handicap debutant Momella.
This horse finished a close second to our selection On the Blind Side on this course 4 weeks ago and of course that winner went on to take the Grade 2 Ballymore at Sandown, achieving a mark of 153.
The handicapper has given marks in the 140s to three horses which were behind Momella, yet she runs here off 134. Mr Skelton must be rubbing his hands with glee – let’s hope we are, too.
King’s Odyssey 1.55 Cheltenham e/w @ 15-2
Guitar Pete 1.55 Cheltenham e/w @ 11-1
My Tent or Yours 3.05 Cheltenham win @ 9-2
Movewiththetimes 12.45 Cheltenham win @ 10-11
(RFC with Coo Star Sivola )
Bun Doran 1.20 Cheltenham win @ 5-2
Momella 3.40 Cheltenham e/w @ 5-1