Simon Holt: Start the Van
Channel 4 commentator Simon Holt is backing Vaniteux as he previews Saturday's action at Cheltenham.
Vaniteux can improve from his seasonal return and win at Cheltenham
Saturday's Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham brings together several of the principals from last month's BetVictor Gold Cup in which Taquin De Seuil nailed the front-running Village Vic close home with Buywise third, Aso fourth, Bouvreuil fifth and Frodon tenth.
Needless to say, the official handicapper has been at work since and, with the winner a non-runner, the others are all closely weighted.
While Village Vic jumped superbly and Buywise finished with his usual belated flourish, the horse who perhaps caught the eye most was Aso who held every chance until pitching on landing at the second last, a mistake that cost him plenty of impetus.
However, with less than seven lengths covering the first five home, one wonders if the form is that strong.
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The horse I like is KYLEMORE LOUGH who has won five of his seven starts over fences, including when beating Outlander in a Grade One novices' chase at Fairyhouse last March.
Kerry Lee's promising seven-year-old made a cracking reappearance to split course specialist Royal Regatta and God's Own (a close third since in the Tingle Creek) at Ascot last month, staying on powerfully from the last and would probably have won in another stride or two.
Connections will not run unless the ground is on the easy side, but Jamie Moore's mount, a really solid jumper, looks potentially the most progressive horse in the field.
If Kylemore Lough is taken out, then Roman Flight could repay an each-way interest.
This versatile gelding – useful on the Flat and over hurdles – produced an unlikely 16/1 success at Newbury last time, coming from way back to collar Red Spinner and San Benedeto in the closing stages.
It's quite possible that he benefitted from the pace collapsing that day but his earlier fourth behind Quite By Chance (a good second to Sire De Grugy next time and now 10lb worse off) at Ascot over a too-sharp two-miles-and-a-furlong was also a good effort, and Roman Flight has been in consistent form all year.
Earlier, VANITEUX looks the one to beat in the Raymond Mould Handicap Chase.
Nicky Henderson's formerly useful hurdler took to fences well last season and was the only horse making a race of it with Douvan when coming down at the second last in the Arkle here in March (Baltimore Rock, now 10lb better off, well beaten when falling at the same fence).
On his reappearance, Vaniteux looked a shade ring-rusty when losing second place to Quite By Chance after the last in the aforementioned race won by Sire De Grugy. While saddled with plenty of weight, this looks easier.
Posted at 1140 GMT on 09/12/16.
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