Champion trainer Paul Nicholls believes that Topofthegame has all the right qualities to make up into a leading contender for the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup. The huge son of Flemensfirth enjoyed his finest hour at this year’s Cheltenham Festival when landing the Grade 1 RSA Chase in impressive fashion. Topofthegame jumped superbly and travelled strongly throughout the 3m contest and after being produced to take up the running after the last found plenty to see off the persistent challenge of Santini to score by a cosy 1/2 length.
The seven-year-old, who is owned by Paul Barber and Chris Giles, runs in the colours of Denman who landed the 2007 RSA Chase before going on to capture the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2008 for Nicholls.
His first target in the 2019/20 season will the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on November 30, and the champion trainer believes the youngster could have a “serious chance” at in the Cheltenham Festival blue riband contest should all go to plan..
Speaking on an owners’ open day at his Ditcheat yard, Nicholls said: “He strikes me as an ideal Gold Cup horse. We’ll train him with that race in mind. He travels beautifully, jumps and stays, and those are the qualities you need.”
Solid Each-Way Contender
The unexposed stayer, who is a general 10-1 shot to land the Cheltenham showpiece, looks to have done exceptionally well over the summer, and the trainer added: “We had a few little problems with him last season and he’s not been easy to train. “Obviously it wasn’t the plan to take him to the festival without a win over fences under his belt, but we just ran out of time. He beat Santini fair and square there, and the third horse has since boosted the form, so the first three at Cheltenham all look top-class.
“And look at his earlier form. Any horse capable of giving Defi Du Seuil the best part of 25 lengths start, as Topofthegame did at Exeter, and then getting within four lengths of him, must be a serious horse.”
I seriously liked the way in which Topofthegame won the RSA and share Nicholls’ enthusiasm about the imposing sort. At the current 10/1 on offer with Betfred he looks a solid each-way contender for the Gold Cup in my book.
Dual Grade 1 Winning Hurdler Reserve Tank Set to Go Chasing
Dorset handler Colin Tizzard talked through plans for some of his stars during a recent open day and revealed that he is favouring a novice chasing campaign with last season’s dual Grade 1-winning hurdler Reserve Tank.
The five-year-old improved rapidly in the start of 2019, winning at Sandown and Kempton before impressive victories at the highest level at the Aintree and Punchestown festivals.
He is currently a general 16-1 for the 2m 4f JLT at Cheltenham, with Paddy power going a standout 20/1 about him for the Arkle run over the shorter distance of 2m.
Tizzard said: “He improved massively last season but we have a decision to make as to whether we go novice chasing. Personally I would, but it is not a straightforward decision and we will talk about it. “He is a good jumper and if we decide to go chasing he will start in the novice chase at Chepstow. We think he will make a top chaser.”
Having put Reserve Tank up as a horse to follow over fences in 2019/20, I am absolutely delighted that is now the intended plan. To me the Arkle ttrip of 2m will be too sharp, but the JLT looks tailor-made for him.
Elixir De Nutz to Be Aimed at Champion Hurdler
Tizzard also reavled that last season’s Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle winner Elixir De Nutz will stay over hurdles and be aimed at the Champion Hurdle at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, for which he is a 33/1 shot with bet365.
The five-year-old, who defeated Grand Sancy by half a length at Sandown, was found lame a week before his intended run in the Supreme at the Cheltenham Festival for which he was a leading fancy with many.
Tiozzard said: “We are going to try and make Elixir De Nutz into a Champion Hurdler and there is no reason why he can’t be. He will need to go up a fair bit, but last year was his first proper season and he won three, including a Grade 1.
“We have given him a bit more time out in the field because he had a little injury. We want him in all of the big races in the spring, he will be out in December and we will look at some of the Champion Hurdle trials for him.”