2019 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup tips – Two horses to side with in Saturday’s handicap highlight at Cheltenham

Jon Vine takes a look through the betting for the Caspian Caviar and points out two horses for punters to back at Cheltenham on Saturday 14th December.

The International Hurdle may be the flagship race of Cheltenham’s December festival, but the race that excites punters most on Saturday is always the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.

This two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase has been won by some outstanding horses, with greats like Pendil and Flyingbolt carrying weight in excess of 12-00 to victory during the early history of the race. Frodon shouldered top-weight when winning this race 12 months ago, before going on to claim a famous victory in the Ryanair at the Cheltenham Festival.

I’ve managed to tip the winner of three big handicaps at the ante-post stage so far this season, including the BetVictor Gold Cup here at Cheltenham. Here are the two I’ve already backed in Saturday’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.

2019 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Tips

Ridersonthestorm made a nice impression on his first start after arriving at Nigel Twiston-Davies’ yard from Ireland, proving he was well-handicapped with a solid victory at Aintree. While he clearly has talent, Ridersonthestorm has been thrown up the handicap by 13 pounds after what was only a one-and-a-half length victory, so I think the handicapper has made it very difficult for the favourite to reproduce that performance.

Cepage flew home at Aintree to give Ridersonthestorm a real scare and Venetia Williams’ charge ran a blinder to push Frodon all the way to the line on his only start of last season in this race. Thanks to that pair of runner-up finishes, Cepage returns to Cheltenham 12 pounds higher in the handicap and, while I’d rather side with him than the market leader, there are better-treated contenders sitting behind him in the betting.

Secret Investor ended last season with a Grade Two triumph at Ayr and didn’t run badly on his reappearance behind Real Steel. The good ground at Cheltenham will suit him much more than the soft going he encountered at Down Royal and Harry Cobden has already been jocked up. Despite that, I would still rather side with Paul Nicholls’ second-string and BRELAN D’AS (10/1 William Hill) is my first selection.

This will be Brelan D’As’ third visit to Cheltenham this season. His first ended in disappointment, as Nicholls’ eight-year-old unseated Barry Geraghty at the third-last. That failure saw Brelan D’As carry odds of 20/1 into the BetVictor Gold Cup, but Geraghty’s mount produced an excellent performance, powering down the home straight to come within a neck of reeling in Happy Diva.

The previous three Caspian Caviar winners ran in the BetVictor Gold Cup and Brelan D’As was only upped five pounds in the weights, despite coming so close to winning. Nicholls’ charge clearly enjoys running here at Cheltenham and the word “good” has featured in the going description during four of his five career victories. He looks a solid each-way proposition sitting on 10/1.

Benatar (right) beating Finian’s Oscar (left) during his novice season.

Keeper Hill battled back bravely to get the better of Midnight Shadow in a Graduation Chase the last day and this could turn out to be his best trip. Guitar Pete won this race on the back of a lengthy defeat in the BetVictor Gold Cup, so Nicky Richards’ star shouldn’t be written off, despite a poor performance here last month.

While both hold appeal, I find myself drawn to the enigmatic BENATAR (16/1 Unibet). Gary Moore’s chaser hasn’t been seen since a lengthy defeat behind Cyrname in a handicap at Ascot last winter but, if back at the peak of his powers, he’s more than capable of winning off his current mark.

Benatar enjoyed a fantastic novice chasing season in 2017/18, beating Finian’s Oscar in the Grade Two Noel Chase, before a staying-on third behind Shattered Love and Terrefort in the JLT at that season’s Cheltenham Festival. Following a poor showing on heavy ground on his reappearance last term, Benatar was backed into a short price for the BetVictor Gold Cup, but had to be withdrawn from running on the morning of the race.

Jamie Moore’s mount was then beaten 16-lengths behind Politologue in the Christy Chase, before a decent third on his first start over three miles at Ascot. Moore then made the mistake of trying to hang onto Cyrname’s coattails, fading rapidly once the leader turned on the gas, and it clearly took a long time for Moore’s charge to recover from that gruelling effort.

It’s always a risky proposition backing Benatar, who can be very fresh in the early stages of his races and his jumping can be a little sketchy. He does, however, boast a tremendous amount of class, he goes on all kinds of ground and has run well here at Cheltenham in the past. I’m certain this mark of 148 is not beyond Benatar and he looks to be the best bet of the race at 16/1.