Aloomomo on track for Caspian

A 44-strong entry (up from 41 in 2015 and 32 in 2014) has been revealed for the £100,000 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, which takes place at Cheltenham on Saturday, December 10, day two of The International.

Aloomomo is on track for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup

One horse with the Grade Three handicap chase, which is run over two miles, four furlongs and 166 yards, firmly in his sights in Aloomomo (Warren Greatrex).

The six-year-old showed highly-progressive form last season, with victories at Warwick and in a valuable handicap chase at Newbury.

He rounded off the 2015/16 campaign by finishing a close sixth in the Listed Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase at The Festival in March and made a promising reappearance at Ascot on Saturday when third in a novices' hurdle.

"The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup is the aim for Aloomomo," said Greatrex.

"His run at Ascot last Saturday was very pleasing. He just got a bit tired after the last but wasn't fully revved up and there should be a lot of improvement.

"He did very well over the summer physically and will appreciate softer ground than he encountered at Ascot.

"The trip should be fine and he has some experience around Cheltenham when he ran there at The Festival last season. The ground was a bit quick for him that day.

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"The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup has been the plan for a while. If for some reason the ground did dry up, we would have to think again as he really does appreciate soft ground."

Taquin du Seuil (Jonjo O'Neill) heads the entries, having already secured the first major prize of the season at Cheltenham – the Grade Three BetVictor Gold Cup at The Open.

O'Neill nominated the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup as a likely target for Taquin du Seuil after that victory and, if successful on December 10, the nine-year-old would join a select band of three horses to have won both handicap chases in the same season – Pegwell Bay (1988), Senor El Betrutti (1997) and Exotic Dancer (2006).

O'Neill has also entered More Of That, the 2014 World Hurdle winner who was pulled up after starting the 7/2 favourite for the BetVictor Gold Cup, and recent Ascot runner-up Go Conquer.

Village Vic (Philip Hobbs), winner of the 2015 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, was the neck runner-up to Taquin du Seuil in the BetVictor Gold Cup last time out. The only dual winner of the Caspian Caviar Gold has been Poquelin in 2009 and 2010.

Other horses to have competed in last month's contest and also holding Caspian Caviar Gold Cup entries include the third Buywise (Evan Williams), fourth Aso (Venetia Williams) and fifth Bouvreuil (Paul Nicholls).

The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup has gone to Ireland six times and there are two Irish-trained entries in 2016, both trained by Gordon Elliott – the 2016 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate victor Empire Of Dirt and Killer Crow.

Other interesting contenders include Vaniteux (Nicky Henderson), Bristol de Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies) and Three Musketeers (Dan Skelton), who were all Graded winners in novice chases last season.

Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson are jointly the most successful current trainers in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup with three wins apiece.

In addition to Bouvreuil, Nicholls could also be represented by Art Mauresque, Saphir du Rheu, Le Mercurey, Irish Saint and Frodon. Henderson has three entries in total Vaniteux, Volnay de Thaix and Full Shift.

Weights for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup will be revealed on Wednesday, November 30. The maximum permitted field size is 18.

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