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Cheltenham preview: Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (13.50)

David Metcalf | December 11, 2015

Champagne West looks decent value to take advantage of what looks a handy mark to land the spoils in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham (13.50).

The Philip Hobbs trained gelding developed into a smart hurdler in 2013/14, landing a hat-trick before finishing a fine fourth in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett at the Festival on his final start.

However, the strapping son of Westerner had the size and scope an even better chaser, winning two of his three starts over the larger obstacles last season in the style of a very smart prospect.

Punters could be celebrating with Champagne if you’re on West

In the first of those over over course and distance, the seven-year-old jumped well and showed a smart turn of foot to readily draw clear of Colour Squadron and score by 3 1/4 lengths.

CHAMPAGNE WEST with R Johnson wins Novice Chase at Cheltenham 13-12-14.

Champagne West followed up over 2m 5f at this venue with a workmanlike by 1 1/2 length success over Un Ace having when not jumping fluently in a slowly run contest, before posting a solid effort to chase home Ptit Zig at the track.

Although beaten six lengths in the latter, the winner is a very useful sort now rated 162 and the pair pulled miles clear of some smart types.

Judged on that effort, Champagne West looks nicely treated off an opening handicap mark of 150 and weighted to run a huge race at a track which clearly suits.

Will it pay to back Buywise?

There are plenty of dangers in a wide open contest, and Buywise and Village Vic look big players.

Horse Racing - Ludlow Racecourse

The former is a very useful but frustrating sort trained by Evan Williams who is often let down by his jumping before finishing with a real rattle.

Buywise has often looked an unlucky loser in ultra-competitive handicaps, including when runner-up last time out over course and distance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.

The seven-year-old made his customary blunders before staying on strongly to go down by a diminishing neck to Annacotty, and although now 4lb higher in the weights undoubtedly has the ability to land a big prize like this if cutting out the errors.

Village Vic may have inside track on stablemate

Village Vic is a stable companion to Champagne West, and has looked better than ever in winning both starts this season.

Village_Vic

He creeps into the race off bottom weight of 10st, and it’s interesting that Richard Johnson has presumably chosen him over the selection.

However, I don’t think he has as much scope or class as Champagne West and a career-best is needed if Village Vic is to complete the hat-trick.

Related

Keep an eye on our Cheltenham coverage for more race previews and tips.

Coral’s top tip: Champagne West boasts some top class form and looks well worth a wager to cash-on on what looks a lenient opening handicap mark.