CHELTENHAM RACECOURSE NEWS - Spiritofthegames favourite as 42 entered for BetVictor Gold Cup

Published 2019/10/30

Spiritofthegames is the market leader with BetVictor.

Trained by Dan Skelton, the seven-year-old captured a Listed novices' chase at Chepstow on his first start last season before finishing third in a pair of handicap chases at Cheltenham later in the campaign.

The latest of those efforts at the Home of Jump Racing saw Spiritofthegames take third behind Siruh du Lac (Nick Williams) in the G3 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase at The Festival™ presented by Magners. Spiritofthegames has not raced since finishing fifth behind Kalashnikov (Amy Murphy) in the G1 Devenish Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree's Randox Health Grand National Festival in April.

Siruh du Lac was one of the most improved chasers in training last season and, prior to his triumph at The Festival™ under Lizzie Kelly, had registered handicap wins at Newbury, Exeter and Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day.

Trainer Nick Williams said of the six-year-old: "All is fine with Siruh du Lac. "He is ticking over nicely, there have been no issues, and the plan is to go for the BetVictor Gold Cup. "I guess at the beginning of last season it would have been hard to envisage the rate of improvement he showed, but he has always been a horse with lots of potential.

"He is a young horse who loves jumping fences and I think the confidence he has was a big part of his progress last season. "I would like to think he can pick up from where he left off. That is the idea anyway."

The class act among the entries is Aso (Venetia Williams) with an official rating of 168. Aso posted a career-best on his latest start when second to last year's BetVictor Gold Cup runner-up Frodon in the G1 Ryanair Chase at The Festival™.

Nigel Twiston-Davies has trained four winners of the BetVictor Gold Cup, including 2017 victor Splash Of Ginge, who could line up again. Twiston-Davies has also engaged course and distance scorer Count Meribel.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has two BetVictor Gold Cups to his name and the Somerset handler has five entries, the joint-most alongside his great rival Nicky Henderson. Nicholls' quintet features Galway Plate second Black Corton and Brelan d'As, one of three entries for owner J P McManus, while Henderson's team is led by Janika, who finished second to Siruh du Lac at The Festival™.

Colin Tizzard, chasing a first BetVictor Gold Cup, appears to have two live contenders in Slate House, a facile winner in novice company at The Showcase last weekend, and White Moon.

The three Irish-trained entries are The West's Awake (Edward O'Grady), Us And Them (Joseph O'Brien), who finished second in four G1 novices' chases last season, and Articulum (Terence O'Brien).

There have been three Irish-trained winners of the BetVictor Gold Cup, the most recent being the Edward O'Grady-trained Tranquil Sea in 2009.

Weights for the BetVictor Gold Cup will be announced at noon on Wednesday, 6 November. Sam Boswell of BetVictor commented: "We are thrilled to have so many classy entries for the 2019 renewal of the BetVictor Gold Cup. For many, this race is seen as the Jumps season opener and we, like the racing public, are looking forward to watching it all unfold on 16 November.

"Our ante-post market has been popular with customers, with a few names already making moves. Dan Skelton currently has the ante-post favourite Spiritofthegames.

The recent Cheltenham winner Slate House entered the betting at 33/1 and, prior to that victory, had already been well supported to make it back-to-back victories at Prestbury Park.

"We are delighted to offer five places to our customers ahead of the big race."

The November Meeting is Cheltenham's biggest meeting outside of The Festival and takes place over three days from Friday, 15 November and Sunday, 17 November.

A full list of odds for the BetVictor Gold Cup will be available later today at The BetVictor Gold Cup Grade 3 handicap chase, £160,000 total prize fund. Cheltenham, Saturday, 16 November. Two miles, four furlongs (2m 4f 44y). For four-year-olds and upwards. Penalties: after November 3, a winner of a chase 5lb.

Entries closed October 29, entries revealed October 30 (42 entries). Weights revealed November 6. Five-day confirmation stage November 11, final declarations November 14.

Maximum field size 20 runners plus 2 reserves. Horse Age Owner Trainer Articulum (IRE) 9 Martin McDonagh/Paul Murphy/M Nixon Terence O'Brien IRE Aso (FR) 9 The Bellamy Partnership Venetia Williams Belami des Pictons (FR) 8 Hills of Ledbury (Aga) Venetia Williams Black Corton (FR) 8 The Brooks Family & J Kyle Paul Nicholls Brelan d'As (FR) 8 J P McManus Paul Nicholls Capeland (FR) 7 Mrs Kathy Stuart Paul Nicholls Casablanca Mix (FR) 7 E R Hanbury Nicky Henderson Cepage (FR) 7 The Bellamy Partnership Venetia Williams Charmant (FR) 7 A Phillips & Mr&Mrs Sperling James Ewart Count Meribel 7 Charles C Walker Nigel Twiston-Davies Dead Right 7 J P McManus Neil Mulholland Dell Oro (FR) 6 Galloping On The South Downs Partnership Gary Moore Demi Sang (FR) 6 J P McManus Ben Haslam Eamon An Cnoic (IRE) 8 The Angove Family David Pipe Go Long (IRE) 9 William & Angela Rucker Evan Williams Gold Present (IRE) 9 John & Barbara Cotton Nicky Henderson Got Away (FR) 6 B McDonald and B Mellon Oliver Sherwood Guitar Pete (IRE) 9 Mrs Pat Sloan Nicky Richards Happy Diva (IRE) 8 Will Roseff Kerry Lee Highway One O One (IRE) 7 Anthony Ward-Thomas Chris Gordon Janika (FR) 6 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson Kalashnikov (IRE) 6 Paul Murphy Amy Murphy Knocknanuss (IRE) 9 Hail Sargent Evans Gary Moore Magic Saint (FR) 5 John & Barbara Cotton Paul Nicholls Mercian Prince (IRE) 8 Paul Murphy Amy Murphy O O Seven (IRE) 9 Christopher Hanbury Nicky Henderson Potterman 6 James & Jean Potter Ltd Alan King Royal Village (IRE) 7 R Triple H Ian Williams Saint Calvados (FR) 6 Kate & Andrew Brooks Harry Whittington Secret Investor 7 Hills of Ledbury (Aga) Paul Nicholls Siruh du Lac (FR) 6 John White & Anne Underhill Nick Williams Sky Pirate 6 Lady Bamford & Alice Bamford Jonjo O'Neill Slate House (IRE) 7 Eric Jones, Geoff Nicholas, John Romans Colin Tizzard Spiritofthegames (IRE) 7 N W Lake Dan Skelton Splash of Ginge 11 J D Neild Nigel Twiston-Davies Springtown Lake (IRE) 7 Tim Syder Philip Hobbs The West's Awake (IRE) 8 Sue Magnier Edward O'Grady IRE Us And Them (IRE) 6 Burnham P & D Ltd Joseph O'Brien IRE Warthog (FR) 7 Professor Caroline Tisdall & Bryan Drew David Pipe Western Miller (IRE) 8 The Pantechnicons IV Charlie Longsdon Whatswrongwithyou (IRE) 8 5 Hertford Street Racing Club Nicky Henderson White Moon (GER) 7 Brocade Racing Colin Tizzard 42 entries 3 Irish-trained