Taquin tops Caviar field
BetVictor Gold Cup hero Taquin Du Seuil (11st 12lb, Jonjo O'Neill) heads the weights for the £100,000 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham on day two of The International, Saturday, December 10.
The prestigious Grade Three handicap chase is run over two miles, four furlongs and 166 yards at 1.50pm, mid-way through the excellent seven-race card, and received a high entry of 44, up from 41 in 2015 and 32 in 2014.
Taquin Du Seuil bids to become the first horse since Exotic Dancer (2006), also trained by O'Neill, and the third in all to lift both races in the same season.
O'Neill is also responsible for More Of That (11st 5lb), who was pulled up when sent off favourite for the BetVictor Gold Cup, and recent Ascot runner-up Go Conquer (10st 1lb).
Village Vic (Philip Hobbs, 11st 9lb), second to Taquin Du Seuil earlier this month, made all to win the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup decisively in 2015 and could bid to become just the second two-time winner of the race alongside Poquelin (2009, 2010).
Buywise (Evan Williams, 11st 2lb), Aso (Venetia Williams, 10st 9lb) and Bouvreuil (Paul Nicholls, 10st 11lb), who were third, fourth and fifth, are also likely to re-oppose.
Roman Flight (David Dennis, 10st 9lb) is under consideration for the after producing a career-best to capture a valuable two and a half mile handicap chase at Newbury on November 25.
The eight-year-old had plenty to do jumping the last but picked up strongly to win by a snug half-length from Red Spinner (Kim Bailey, 10st 8lb) at the line.
Dennis said: "Roman Flight has come out of last week's race fine. He went up two pounds for winning, which is par for the course when you consider the first three were in a bit of a heap.
"He is a good ground horse, so if the weather stays dry, the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup will be considered.
"He was staying on strongly over two and a half miles at Newbury and seemed to want every yard of it. He was running over two miles at Ascot before that but maybe longer trips are the way to go with him now."
Aloomomo (Warren Greatrex, 10st 5lb) is the ante-post favourite in most lists after a promising reappearance third over hurdles at Ascot on November 19.
Gordon Elliott is responsible for both the Irish-trained entries in Empire Of Dirt (11st 11lb), who was successful in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate at The Festival in March and captured the valuable Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan last Sunday, and Killer Crow (9st 9lb).
Other contenders include Bristol De Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies, 11st 5lb) and Kylemore Lough (Kerry Lee, 11st 7lb), both Grade One-winning novices last season, plus the Nicky Henderson-trained pair of Vaniteux (11st 5lb) and Volnay De Thaix (11st 1lb).