An open looking handicap. The presence of Minella Rocco has put a few contenders out of the handicap in this staying race with Jonjo O’Neill lowering the 2016 Gold Cup second’s sights dropping into handicap company. Minella Rocco looked in need of the run at Punchestown and will have come on plenty for it and should be competitive even with top weight. Doing Fine has to be seen as the main challenger after an encouraging run at Cheltenham three weeks ago over a trip on the short side for him. This looks his best chance of landing a good handicap even though he is three pounds out of the handicap. Nicky Henderson’s Premier Bond is open to improvement over staying distances and can go well. The application of cheekpieces has brought about significant improvement from Three Faces West and he should be on the premises here, presuming he handles the unique contours of Cheltenham having never experienced racing at Prestbury Park. Benbens will be staying on at the finish but is susceptible to younger, improving types but could be value @ 16/1 while fellow veteran Perfect Candidate is no forlorn hope.
As usual a fiercely competitive Bet Victor Gold Cup with Kylemore Lough heading the market. Now with Harry Fry, it would not be inconceivable that his new trainer can find more improvement from this eight year old but he will have to at the weights. It is interesting to note that only two winners of this race in the last ten years have carried more than eleven stone and those were classy types, Al Ferof and Taquin De Seuil. Is Kylemore Lough of that ilk? It remains to be seen. Tully East will be all the rage after winning the Close Brothers Chase at the Festival back in March and though he won well, being produced late and will likely be ridden in a similar fashion. Double Treasure has done nothing but improve for trainer Jamie Snowden and should not be overlooked @ 16/1 while Romain De Senam and Starchitect are also capable of more progression. The admirable Foxtail Hill loves it around Cheltenham and will give his all once more while Ballyalton and Guitar Pete can go well. Plaisir D’Amour is interesting having took a listed race over slightly further than this back in April and Venetia Williams did go close with Aso last year so the 25/1 about this improving mare is tempting.
There is not an abundance of pace around in this race and Sands Chorus, if good enough, is likely to take them along with Victory Bond, Boynton and Ayrad close up. Ayrad is the pick on Quickened Clear’s ratings but is none too consistent and has been gelded and then tried with blinkers of late. If producing his best he should take the beating but that is not a given. Boynton is closely tied with Victory Bond, beaten a half length on his belated reappearance before coming third in a listed race on turf. The return to an artificial surface should suit and this son of More Than Ready can yet return to the form of his two year old days. Victory Bond has not quite gone on having had a year off the track though William Haggas can have a good campaign on the all weather with this four year old and he should be thereabouts here. Battalion went off the boil in February earlier this year and has not been seen since April. A winner of this race in 2014, if returning to the form of his listed efforts last season Battalion would go very close. Master The World was third in this race twelve months ago and can go well again @12/1.
The one to beat is Thomas Campbell, who won well over course and distance last time and clearly has improvement in him over hurdles but he is a pretty short price in what is a small, yet competitive field. Anteros returns to the scene of his victory twelve months ago only three pounds higher and will be held up for a late challenge. Rocky’s Treasure with only four runs over hurdles to his name, ran slightly green when winning comfortably at Ffos Las in April and it will be interesting to see how much this half-brother to Double Shuffle has improved over the summer but the undulatings of Cheltenham will test him. KK Lexion is another who could improve after a fair return at this course three weeks ago with the trip likely to be within his compass and with Adrian Heskin back on board is a contender @ 6/1. There has been something of a resurgence from the talented Dell‘ Arca and this eight year old has to be respected, following his run behind Thomas Campbell with a good victory at Newbury last time. Connetable had lost his way a little but ran better last time and could go well at 16/1.
There will be plenty of pace on in this six furlong sprint with Gifted Master, Mythical Magic and Caspian Prince setting the fractions but it should set things up for a closer though Mythical Magic is well drawn and should fare best of the pace setters. Magical Memory is the class horse of the race but does have a penalty and a wide draw to negotiate and will have to weave through the field or come around the outside to take this, but is more than capable. Portland winner Spring Loaded was once just deemed an all weather horse and he now returns to a surface he loves and should be on the premises. The well drawn Out Do, Mazzini and three year old filly Clem Fandango can all go well from good draws, the latter a tasty 20/1 but the one that catches the eye is Intisaab. His recent runs can be forgiven as he prefers a sound surface and most have come on good to soft or softer. Lingfield’s polytrack will suit and his last run on the all weather was a good second at Newcastle in the group 3 Chipchase Stakes. The strong pace here will play into his hands and from stall seven should get a good position with the 14/1 available value.
The handicap three weeks ago won by Master Dancer could have a say in this with Vivas and The Mighty Don both likely to go well, the latter open to improvement and is a value bet @ 12/1. Diable De Sivola, fifth in the Fred Winter and looking in need of a stiffer test of stamina, made a good return last month and given some improvement looks to have a big chance here. Lightly raced sorts from big yards warrant utmost respect such as Coup De Pinceau and Poker Play, Stamp Your Feet should go well as can Red Indian and the hat-trick seeking Coole Cody.
Quickened Clear’s Best Bets:
Plaisir D’Amour – 2.25 Cheltenham – 1pt win @ 25/1
Intisaab – 3.15 Lingfield – 1pt win @ 14/1
The Mighty Don – 3.30 Cheltenham – 1pt win @ 12/1