Bill Esdaile offers his best bets for the weekend’s racing at Cheltenham and Doncaster
CHAMPION trainer Paul Nicholls has won three of the last five renewals of tomorrow’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (2.00pm) and the Ditcheat maestro can make it four from six with the unexposed CAID DU BERLAIS.
Last month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup winner has only been raised 5lb by the handicapper for that victory, which surely underestimates his likely improvement. Connections seriously considered withdrawing him because of the soft underfoot conditions last month and, while rain is expected, hopefully the surface won’t get too testing.
Evan Williams saddles the well-fancied Barrakilla who, judging on market support this week, is still very well handicapped off a mark of just 135. However, this is his first trip to Prestbury Park and he will have to be very decent to fend off my selection.
A bigger danger may well be Nicky Henderson’s Ericht, who is another on a very workable mark. He would have finished a lot closer in the Paddy Power but for a shuddering mistake at the second last. Cheltenham may not play to his strengths, but he will land a decent pot somewhere this season.
The New One should have too much speed for the promising Vaniteux in the International Hurdle (3.10pm), however, an 8lb pull at the weights may make this a closer duel than the market suggests.
Henderson can land the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (12.15pm) with the hugely exciting French import HARGAM. The three-year-old travelled like a dream on his debut at the track last month and was only just run out of it late on by a decent horse with plenty of match practice.
The same stable may well run newcomer PEACE AND CO in Doncaster’s Summit Hurdle (2.15pm) and he is another who has been impressing work watchers at Seven Barrows. The son of Falco can be backed at 25/1 for the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival next march and I expect him to be a lot shorter come tomorrow night.
The highlight of this afternoon’s action at Cheltenham is a rematch between the two exciting novice chasers Kings Palace and SAUSALITO SUNRISE (12.30pm). The former came out on top with a spectacular round of jumping on his chasing bow at the Paddy Power meeting last month, but there are grounds for expecting a reversal today. An extra furlong in distance and the 8lb swing at the weights pushes me towards Philip Hobbs’ charge.
SAUSALITO SUNRISE 12.30pm Cheltenham (today)
HARGAM 12.15pm Cheltenham (tomorrow)
CAID DU BERLAIS 2.00pm Cheltenham (tomorrow)
PEACE AND CO 2.15pm Doncaster (tomorrow)