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Day Two of the biggest Jump racing meeting before Christmas features the iconic BetVictor Gold Cup (formerly the Mackeson Gold Cup).
The racing highlight of The November Meeting, the BetVictor Gold Cup, always draws a large and high-class field for and was won last year by Baron Alco, trained and ridden by the father/son combination of Gary and Jamie Moore.
Slate House (Colin Tizzard) was a wide margin winner of a novice event on his return at the Showcase meeting. That was a much improved performance after a disappointing novice chasing season in which he never got going.
Saint Calvados (Harry Whittington) will relish any cut in the ground and the six-year-old showed his battling spirit to win the Randox Handicap Chase here in October. This will be a new trip for him but he looks well equipped to take on the challenge.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has a good record in this race and he saddles Count Meribel in this. The seven-year-old struggled against the top graded chasers last year but he did not disgrace himself when he finished second to Lostintranslation in the Colin Parker Chase at Carlisle.
Irish-raider Us And Them (Joseph O’Brien) was second in the Arkle and the Maghull Novices’ Chase last season, and made a decent seasonal when coming third in the PWC Champions Chase last time.
It would be quite some training achievement for O’Brien to win a big flat race in the USA (Iridessa, Breeders’ Cup) and then to take a big staying chase within the space of two weeks.
Siruh Du Lac (Nick Williams) completed an impressive four timer last season in the Festival Plate, when he got the better of Janika (Nicky Henderson) in a pulsating finish, with Spiritofthegames (Dan Skelton), just two and a half lengths behind.
The form of that race has already been franked by Janika’s win in the Haldon Gold Cup, which suggests that the trio can all make their mark on this race.
In recent years Nigel Twiston-Davies, Paul Nicholls, Jonjo O’Neill and the Pipe stable have monopolised this race. Since 1996 those four yards have won the BetVictor Gold Cup a staggering 16 times between them so it is worth taking note of any of their runners.
This is the only Sunday where racing takes place at Cheltenham Racecourse throughout the year and the afternoon is lit up by the ultra-competitive Greatwood Hurdle followed by the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle.
Both hurdle races are almost always won by rising National Hunt stars.
The Greatwood Hurdle weights are headed by Le Patriote (Dr Richard Newland), who has not raced since landing the Pertemps Network Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock Park in May.
The Tom Lacey-trained Sebastopol has been well supported in the horse racing odds since recording a seven-length success in a handicap hurdle at Wincanton on October 17th.
Anything Fergal O’Brien sends out to race at present has to be respected and his Benny's Bridge is surely going to be on many people’s betting slips.
Pacify, who is co-owned by the Duchess of Cornwall, is due to run in the Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle immediately after the Greatwood.
The seven-year-old will be bidding to extend his perfect record over the flights to six in total.