James Boyle’s Ante-Post Value – The December Gold Cup
There are no shortage of interesting contenders in Saturday’s December Gold Cup, for all that the race has cut up a bit, and it’s time to try to find a winner! Top of the tree is a Paul Nicholls trained 5-year-old in the shape of Caid Du Berlais and following the son of Westerner’s fast-finishing win in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last month, it’s no surprise to see him so strongly fancied to repeat.
Everything about the horse would suggest that he has more to offer the game as a chaser and the handicapper hasn’t gone mad in sticking him up by 5lbs, so where are the chinks in his armour? It would appear as if there aren’t many and this race isn’t as demanding, but backing up such a hard effort may not be easy and it could be an issue that stops him from showing his 100% true worth.
It’s clutching at straws somewhat but when it comes to siding with a 7/2 shot in such a hot event, it doesn’t exactly take much to be in place to scare one off – and on price grounds I do have to look elsewhere. It won’t be a surprise at all if the horse manages to bolt up but he had his big day in the sun a few weeks ago and repeating the trick – physically, as much as anything – could be difficult.
No Buts shades second-favouritism at the moment and the David Bridgwater trained 6-year-old is another who is likely to have more to offer this game. He looked decent in the early part of his chasing career last term but was a revelation second time up this season when making light work of a mark of 130 at Newbury last time out, hammering the in-form and re-opposing Sound Investment by a ready 8-lengths. I get the impression that we’re yet to see the best of him but his last win doesn’t come without any negatives as he’s 10lbs higher now and running against superior rivals. That means he’ll have to find the improvement straight away if he’s to trouble the judge and it’s a tough ask on his first Cheltenham outing.
One horse that I’ve got plenty of time for is Evan Williams’ 7-year-old BARRAKILLA and off a low weight, it would be a disappointment were he unable to get heavily involved, so he’s getting my nod of approval! The son of Milan is lightly-raced over fences with just four outings under his belt so far and I thought that he ran an exceptional race at Sandown last time out when third behind Sound Investment. On that form, he needs to improve in order to mix it with the best of these but he was ridden rather “dead” there on a track where you need to be sitting handily enough and given that it was his first start since winning at Warwick (beat a useful sort) almost ten months previously, fitness-wise he could come on a lot also.
As with No Buts, he does have to prove that he’s a Cheltenham horse and you just don’t know whether they are until they’ve tried it, but I see no reason why he can’t act here as he jumps well and travels kindly through his races – two of the most important aspects around here. How he will act on the undulations is the question but he’s a nice moving sort and I doubt that connections would bother launching him straight into this sort of contest unless they were hopeful of conditions suiting him. Whatever about that, he possesses the scope required to be much better than a 135 rated performer and current quotes of 8/1 with four places being paid appeal to me as worthwhile. There’s untapped potential yet to emerge.
Selection for the December Gold Cup (Saturday, 13th December):
Barrakilla – 2pts each-way @ 8/1 with 4 places, available with a few firms.
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