Ginge ready to cause a Splash in Caspian Caviar Gold Cup
The big betting race of the day is the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham (2.00), and Splash Of Ginge looks a lively outsider and decent each-way value in a wide open contest.
The six-year-old was bought for just £20,000 by Liverpudlian John Neild with the long term dream of winning the Grand National, and succeeded all expectations in his first season over hurdles.
Splash Of Ginge showed tremendous battling qualities to land the valuable Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, one of the most competitive handicaps in the calendar, and ended the campaign with a fine second to Lac Fontana in the Grade 1 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained gelding disappointed on chasing debut when well beaten by Ainsi Fideles at Perth on seasonal reappearance, but has never been at his best going right handed and comprehensively turned that form around when the pair met over 2m 4f at this venue back in October.
Splash Of Ginge jumped and travelled well throughout the contest and after being produced at the last drew readily clear on the run-in to score by nine lengths.
Although the son of Oscar failed to back that up when well beaten in a classy novice chase over course and distance last time out, that run can safely be ignored as half the fences were omitted due to low sun which didn’t play to his strengths.
The strong gallop and stiff jumping test today look sure to see Splash Of Ginge in a far better light, and his owner is bullish about his chances.
Neild told me: “Ginge is fantastically well and we think we have him spot on. I am a firm believer that if you don’t have an opinion then you can never be wrong, and I can’t see him not in first three.”
That is fighting talk indeed, and Splash Of Ginge has a similar profile to Double Ross who won the contest 12 months ago for Twiston-Davies.
Paddy Power Gold Cup hero Caid Du Berlais looks the obvious one that Splash Of Ginge has to beat.
The five-year-old is bidding to become only the fourth horse and the first since Exotic Dancer (2006) to win the Paddy Power Gold Cup and Caspian Caviar Gold Cup in the same season.
His trainer Paul Nicholls has won three of the last five renewals, courtesy of Poquelin (2009 & 2010) and Unioniste (2012), and Caid Du Berlais won with a bit more in hand than the head margin suggests when beating course specialist Johns Spirit last time out.
The son of Westerner has been hit with just a 5lb rise for that success, and that could prove on a lenient side given that Caid Du Berlais remains unexposed and open to plenty more improvement after just three starts over the larger obstacles.