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Baron Alco and Rather Be headline 18 confirmations for Gold Cup

BetVictor Gold Cup hero Baron Alco remains on course for a rare double as he features among 18 five-day confirmations for the £130,000 G3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (1.55pm) at Cheltenham on Saturday, December 15, day two of The International.
 
Trained by Gary Moore, the seven-year-old has the chance to become just the fourth horse to win both the BetVictor Gold Cup and Caspian Caviar Gold Cup in the same season, after Pegwell Bay (1988), Senor El Betrutti (1997) and Exotic Dancer (2006). 
 
Following his two-length victory at The November Meeting, Baron Alco (11st) has been raised 6lb to a rating of 152.
 
Several of his BetVictor Gold Cup rivals are likely to be in opposition again including runner-up and top-weight Frodon (Paul Nicholls, 11st 12lb) and third Guitar Pete (Nicky Richards, 9st 13lb).
 
Frodon and Guitar Pete have already tasted glory in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, having taken the extended two and a half mile handicap chase in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
 
Trainer Nicky Henderson is hoping Rather Be (10st 11lb) has a clear run around after being brought down four fences from home in the BetVictor Gold Cup when still holding every chance.
 
Henderson, who has trained three winners of the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, said: "Rather Be is in good form. 

"He has come out of the BetVictor Gold Cup well and the Caspian Caviar remains the plan.
 
"He had no luck whatsoever in the BetVictor where he was brought down, but I have been happy with him since the race.
 
"He has schooled really well since and will do one more piece of work this week."
 
Henderson has also left in Casablanca Mix (10st 5lb), though she could instead run in the concluding £30,000 OLBG Mares' Handicap Hurdle (3.40pm, 15 entries).
 
Other leading contenders for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup include in-form chasers War Sound (Philip Hobbs, 10st 8lb) and Mr Medic (Robert Walford, 10st 5lb). War Sound eased to a six-length victory in a valuable handicap chase at Aintree on November 10, while Mr Medic captured a similar contest by three lengths at Ascot on November 23.
 
The most valuable race of the day, the £140,000 G2 Unibet International Hurdle (3.05pm), has reopened for entries until 11am tomorrow, Tuesday, December 11.
 
There is further G2 action courtesy of the £32,000 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (2.30pm, 12 entries) over three miles, which could feature 145-rated performer Aye Aye Charlie (Fergal O'Brien) and recent Ascot scorer Doux Pretender (Nicky Henderson).
 
Elsewhere on the card, exciting novice chaser Vinndication (Kim Bailey) may put his unbeaten record on the line in the £25,000 Ryman Novices' Chase (12.45pm, 12 entries) over an extended two and a half miles. A three-time winner over hurdles last season, Vinndication scored in determined fashion on his chasing debut at Carlisle on November 12. 
 
Entries for the Ryman Novices' Chase also feature eye-catching Exeter victor The Russian Doyen (Colin Tizzard) and a pair from Nicky Henderson - the 2018 G1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle second Ok Corral and highly-regarded Warwick scorer Pacific De Baune.
 
Quel Destin (Paul Nicholls) and Cracker Factory (Alan King) are on course for a rematch in the opening £25,000 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (12.10pm, 11 entries), having been separated by a length and a quarter in a similar contest at The November Meeting.
 
Alan King's three entries also include Fret D'Estruval, a dual winner in France for Guillaume Macaire and like Cracker Factory owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.
 
Bun Doran (Tom George) was one of the most impressive winners at The November Meeting when taking the BetVictor Handicap Chase by eight lengths. The seven-year-old headlines 11 entries for the £30,000 Cheltenham Club Handicap Chase (1.20pm, 11 entries) over two miles.
 
Other entries to note include two-time Cheltenham scorer Foxtail Hill (Nigel Twiston-Davies), who is also engaged in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, and G2 Haldon Gold Cup second Ozzie The Oscar (Philip Hobbs).

The International gets underway on Friday, December 14, with a seven-race programme headlined by the £60,000 G3 CF Roberts 25 Years Of Sponsorship Handicap Chase (2.30pm, 19 entries) over three and a quarter miles. 
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