BetVictor Gold Cup Preview – Saturday 17th November

Last updated: November 15, 2018 by Leon Marshal

The feature race at Cheltenham on Saturday is the £160,000 BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase over two and a half miles. The race was formerly known as the Mackeson Gold Cup and is the first big steeplechase of the new season at racing’s headquarters.

Five horses have won the race twice, most recently Cyfor Malta (1998 and 2002). He was responsible for two of a record eight winners in the race for Martin Pipe. In recent years, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Paul Nicholls and Jonjo O’Neill have dominated the race. Notable previous winners include Dublin Flyer (1995), Our Vic (2005), Exotic Dancer (2006), Imperial Commander (2008) and Al Ferof (2012).

Horses battling in a close race

Henderson seeks second Gold Cup win

Surprisingly, Nicky Henderson has only been successful once in the history of the race. That was with Fondmort back in 2003. The best backed horse in the ante-post market has been his seven-year-old gelding, Rather Be. He will be having only his seventh race over fences and his first since being narrowly beaten at the Festival meeting in March. That was in the Listed Novices’ Chase when just failing to hold Mister Whitaker and losing by a head in soft ground. He is 9lbs better off with that rival on Saturday.

Mick Channon trains Mister Whitaker, a six-year-old gelding by Court Cave. He has a similar profile to Rather Be but does have a recent run under his belt, a comfortable victory over this trip at Carlisle at the start of the month. He raced very keenly that day and that should have put him spot on for this valuable contest.

Noel Fehily partners Kalondra for Neil Mulholland, a faller when right in contention at Galway in August. He ran well when third to Traffic Fluide here in April and was also a winner over course and distance in 2017.

Moore doubly represented in Cheltenham feature race

Trainer Gary Moore is set to run Benatar and Baron Alco, both progressive novices last season. Benatar won twice at Ascot, capturing the Grade 2 Noel Novices’ Chase in December when beating Finian’s Oscar by a short-head. He finished a creditable third at the Festival meeting in March but struggled in heavy ground on his return to action last month.

Baron Alco is yet to finish out of the first three in seven starts over fences. His only victories came at Plumpton but he has been placed at Grade 1 and Grade 3 level. His best run was probably when beaten five lengths by Top Notch at Sandown in February 2017. Injury kept him off the track for almost two years prior to an excellent comeback run behind Charbel at Chepstow in October.

Horse racing on a grass track

David Pipe’s French import King’s Socks ran an eye-catching race here in March when fifth behind The Storyteller. He was heavily supported for his next start at Aintree but faded tamely and was pulled up. He starts the campaign on a 1lb lower mark and is well treated on his best form. He was runner-up to Footpad over hurdles at Auteuil off level terms in 2016.

Emma Lavelle has high hopes for Javert, beaten a length and a quarter by Frodon at Aintree last month. The son of Kayf Tara is 5lbs better off and was finishing strongly that day. Frodon would need to carry the highest weight to victory since Very Promising in 1986.

There has also been each-way support for Kerry Lee’s Happy Diva, a seven-year-old mare by King’s Theatre. She was beaten over two lengths by Mister Whitaker at Carlisle and will be 4lbs better off this weekend.

BetVictor Gold Cup Betting Tips

Rather Be @4-1 BetVictor

Kalondra @7-1

Baron Alco @10-1

King’s Socks @12-1

Each-way 1/5 odds, 1,2,3,4,5,6

The BetVictor Gold Cup is due off at 2.25 at Cheltenham on Saturday 17th November and will be televised live on IYV.