December Gold Cup: View from connections

Scorching on the heels of a Sandown winner final weekend, David Maxwell is now fixing his sights on claiming the dear AIS December Gold Cup at Cheltenham with Merely The Betts.

The newbie rider has his detractors within the saddle however as his victory by a nostril on Dolphin Sq. confirmed final Saturday, his persistence can by no means be questioned.

Educated by Paul Nicholls, Merely The Betts was crushed 12 lengths into seventh by Ga Regulation within the Paddy Energy Gold Cup final month and as Maxwell admits, the race a month later tends to not be as robust.

The nine-year-old was a Competition winner for Harry Whittington in 2020 and has now dropped all the way down to the identical mark.

“He ran actually properly within the Paddy Energy and also you’d prefer to suppose he’ll come on for the run a bit of bit, so I hope he will be aggressive,” mentioned Maxwell.

“It doesn’t look as robust because the Paddy Energy – as it’s yearly that was a really strongly-run race, they went a hell of a gallop, it was nearly a graded race. They went one million miles an hour from flagfall so hopefully this needs to be a bit of simpler.

“I believe he’s obtained each-way claims. I’m not going to say I believe he’s going to win by any means, however I believe it’s truthful sufficient to say he’s obtained each-way claims. I’d be very glad if he completed within the first 4.

“I daren’t take into consideration profitable at Sandown and Cheltenham in successive weeks!”

Nicholls additionally runs Il Ridoto and with Dan Skelton deciding the bottom was too quick for ante-post favorite Midnight River, he’s the ante-post favorite after ending fourth within the Paddy Energy.

“The three in entrance of him that day within the Paddy Energy all had the benefit of a earlier run and he would have been nearer however for making a mistake on the final fence,” Nicholls instructed Betfair.

“Il Ridoto has come on for the outing and I believe the stiffer nature of the New Course will go well with him higher.”


Norman Lee’s Sole Pretender is the one runner travelling from Eire and will likely be ridden by star conditional Michael O’Sullivan, who partnered his first Grade One winner final weekend on Marine Nationale.

One who has been effectively backed this week is the Richard Hobson-trained Fugitif.

The seven-year-old chased residence the rapidly-improving Amarillo Sky over two miles on the November assembly and now steps again up in journey .

“His type is wanting good, it’s simply the identical previous story on the weekend the place it’s going to finish up being good floor I assume and that’s not what he needs. He positively needs the softer aspect of excellent, if not softer,” mentioned Hobson.

“The journey gained’t make any distinction, he’ll need three miles finally.

“He’s not that fast however he’s obtained a excessive cruising pace and softer floor will assist him journey extra comfortably. If it’s on the faster aspect, one thing might get him out of his consolation zone. So hopefully the bottom has a little bit of ease in it.”

Evan Williams gained the race final yr with Coole Cody and this season is represented by Coconut Splash.

“If the assembly goes forward, we’ll be there. It will likely be a last-minute job and they’ll give it each alternative,” he mentioned.

“I don’t know what probability he has obtained. It’s a enormous step up at school. He’s a maiden over fences and I’d have hoped he would have gained a novice chase by now.

“He has solely gained a maiden hurdle in his life, so that you couldn’t say he’s a prolific scorer. You go there hoping {that a} huge discipline may assist him, however he has to step up on what I’ve seen thus far.”

Others within the combine embody Joe Tizzard’s Warfare Lord, the Venetia Williams-trained Frero Banbou and Nicky Henderson’s Unbelievable Girl.



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