The December Gold Cup has been run as the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup since 2014 and is run over 2m5f at Cheltenham’s December Meeting each season around the middle of the month.
In recent years Paul Nicholls’ Poquelin has won the prize in 2009, 2010, 2012, & 2018 with Frodon. Nicky Henderson is another trainer to look out for - having won the race three times since 2002.
Last year in 2019, the David Pipe-trained Warthog won the race at 7/1.
It’s generally, been a good contest for the bookmakers with just one winning favourite in the last 18 runnings (last winning market leader was in 1996), but that’s not to say those at the head of the market don’t do well as 12 of the last 18 winners returned 9/1 or shorter in the betting.
Here at TQ we take a look back at recent winners and give you all the trends that matter ahead of the 2020 renewal – this year run on December 12th.
Recent December (Caspian Caviar) Cup Winners
2019 – Warthog (7/1)
2018 – Frodon (7/1)
2017 – Guitar Pete (9/1)
2016 – Frodon (14/1)
2015 – Villiage Vic (8/1)
2014 – Niceonefrankie (16/1)
2013 – Double Ross (7/1)
2012 – Unioniste (15/2)
2011 – Quantitativeeasing (6/1)
2010 – Poquelin (16/1)
2009 – Poquelin (7/2 fav)
2008 – Abandoned
2007 – Tamarinbleu (22/1)
2006 – Exotic Dancer (8/1)
2005 – Sir Oj (16/1)
2004 – Monkerhostin (4/1)
2003 – Iris Royal (7/1)
2002 – Fondmort (5/1)
2001 – Abandoned
2000 – Go Roger Go (7/1)
December (Caspian Caviar) Gold Cup Betting Trends
18/18 – Aged 8 or younger
16/18 – Ran within the last 5 weeks
15/18 – Had won over at least 2m4f (fences) before
14/18 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
13/18 - Went onto run at the Cheltenham Festival later that season (1 winner, Frodon – Ryanair Chase)
13/18 – Had raced at Cheltenham (fences) before (5 won)
13/18 – Returned 9/1 or shorter in the betting
13/18 – Had won between 2-4 times over fences before
12/18 – Aged 6 or 7 years-old
11/18 – Officially rated 142 or higher
11/18 – French bred
10/18 – Unplaced favourites
8/18 – Carried 10-13 or more
8/18 – Ran at Cheltenham last time out
8/18 – Ran in the Paddy Power (Nov) Gold Cup last time out (1 won)
6/18 – Finished in the top 5 in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last time out
5/18 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
4/18 – Won last time out
3/18 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
2/18 – Trained by David Pipe
2/18 – Ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies
2/18 – Ridden by Richard Johnson (3 wins in total)
2/18 – Went to an Irish-trained horse
1/18 – Winning favourites
The average winning SP in the last 18 runnings is 9/1
The racing in the build-up to Christmas is always one of our favourites each season with top meetings every weekend that climaxes with the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.
However, a few weeks before the King George we’ve another huge Cheltenham Meeting as their two-day December Festival gets going from Fri 11th-Sat 12th.
As always, there will be plenty of Cheltenham Festival clues on offer for later in the season, but one of the clear highlights over the two days is the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (December Gold Cup), which is always run on the Saturday.
It’s a prize the Paul Nicholls yard have done extremely well in recently – winning the race five times since 2009, but last year we saw trainer David Pipe equal his dad, Martin’s, record of two wins in the contest, when his 7 year-old Warthog did the business.
There are plenty of other key trends to note too – let’s take a look at some of the main ones.
Age Concern – This handicap, which is run over 2m4 1/2f, tends to go to a younger, up-and-coming chaser and this is backed up with ALL of the last 18 winners aged 8 or younger! In fact, the last horse to win this race aged in double-figures was in 1974. In recent years, we’ve even seen two 4 year-olds land the prize (2012 and 2016), but with 12 of the last 18 (67%) winners aged 6 or 7 years-old his age group have slightly edged it of late.
Recent Form – Having an outing in the last five weeks is another key trend to note – 16 of the last 18 (88%) winners ticked this particular stat. Also having a good recent run seems to be key with 14 of the last 18 winners (78%) having finished in the top three in their last race, but it’s interesting that only 4 of those 18 took this race having won last time out.
Track Experience – It’s no secret that horses that have performed well at Cheltenham in the past do seem to have an advantage, and that applies to all their meetings over the season. It’s a demanding track with many tests, not to mention ‘the hill’ at the end, so having previous experience can only be a good thing – right? This is backed up with 13 of the last 18 winners of this race having run over fences at Cheltenham in the past – with 5 winning here.
Key Trial Races – Okay, it’s not a trial race as such, but the Paddy Power Gold Cup, which is run at Cheltenham at their November Meeting has always been a good guide. It’s run over the same trip and always attracts the same sort of horses – young improving middle-distance handicap chasers! Yes, the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup is run on the New Course, whereas the Paddy Power Gold Cup is on the Old Course, but that doesn’t make much difference really. Over the last 18 runnings of this race we’ve seen 8 winners contest the Paddy Power Gold Cup the month before, with one horse – Exotic Dancer (2006) – winning both in the same season. With 6 of the last 18 winners of the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup also having finished in the top 5 in the Paddy Power Gold Cup this is another trend to note – backed up again last year with Warthog winning this after running third in the Paddy Power.
Weight Watchers – Being a handicap then the weight carried is another trend look at. However, be warned as in recent years there hasn’t really been a standout stat here. Yes, 8 of the last 18 winners carried 10st 13lbs or more, but this could be turning around a bit as 7 of the last 9 winners (78%) won this with only 10st 10lbs or less on their backs – the 2019 winner, Warthog carried only 10st 3lbs! If running in the race again he’s sure to have more weight this time and will be looking to become the first horse since Poquelin (2009 & 2010) to win this race in back-to-back years.
Trainer Trends – I’ve already mentioned the excellent record in the race that trainer Paul Nicholls has – he’s won this prize five times and is sure to be mob-handed again in 2020. The powerful Nicky Henderson yard also have three wins in the race over the years so must be respected too, while the David Pipe camp will be keen to follow-up last year’s success. Philip Hobbs, Venetia William, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Nicky Richards are all other stables that have won this race in the last seven years.
Overall, we can expect another competitive renewal but despite that we can also take it for granted that the in-form Paul Nicholls yard will have another strong hand in the race as they look for win number six. Don’t forget to look back to the result of the Paddy Power Gold Cup, which was run on Sat 14th Nov this year – especially horses that finished in the top five.
TQ VERDICT: Another decent renewal of this handicap and, as always, the Paddy Power Gold Cup, that was run here last month is often a good guide. The winner of that race was Coole Cody, so another good run from this Evan Williams runner looks on the cards, but he is 6lbs higher this time so would need to find a tad more. We’ve also for the third from that race – AL DANCER – running again and getting in here off the same mark then this Nigel Twiston-Davies grey is the shout. This 7 year-old stayed on well to take third that day and the weight pull he gets with Coole Cody swings it in his favour for me. Master Tommytucker is another seems to have got his act together – winning his last two in impressive fashion – but even though he looks a better horse in recent runs, the pick, Al Dancer, did beat him back in October, while having been a horse that’s made mistakes with his jumping in the past, it remains to be seen how it will hold up around Cheltenham and in a competitive race like this. He’s still a big player though. Midnight Shadow and Cepage are proven CD winners that command respect too and the last-named – MIDNIGHT SHADOW (e/w) – should be a lot fitter for his return run at Aintree back in October. He’s run well at the track in the past and ran well in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Festival (6th) last season, beaten just over 10 lengths behind Samcro which is solid form. Windsor Avenue will have it’s backers too after running the improving Imperial Aura close at Carlisle last time and with that horse winning again the form has been franked – I’m just not sure Cheltenham will be his track (first run here). Of the rest, the Paul Nicholls 5 year-old Saint Sonnet could bounce back, but does need to put a fall in the Paddy Power behind him and that would be a worry. Good Boy Bobby, another from the Twiston-Davies yard, Chatham Street Lad and Musical Slave are others that can go well.